GREENWICH — Following a one-goal loss to Darien, its first defeat of the season, the Greenwich High School girls ice hockey team was intent on turning the page and getting back on the winning track Monday against another rival in the form of New Canaan.
A quick, two-goal first period helped the Cardinals accomplish their mission on Monday.
Greenwich set the tone with those early goals, added a pair of tallies in the third period and received stellar goaltending from Jessie Aselin in an impressive 4-1 win over New Canaan in an FCIAC matchup at Dorothy Hamill Skating Rink.
The win raised the Cardinals’ record to 8-1 overall and 5-1 in FCIAC play. The Rams, who were riding an eight-game winning streak, are 9-2 overall and 6-1 in the FCIAC.
Riley Ellsworth, Jennifer Kelly, Sydney Orszulak and Katie Piotrzkowski each scored for Greenwich, which received 23 saves from Aselin.
“It was really important to have a nice response today after not having our best effort against Darien last week,” said GHS coach Alex Lerchen, whose squad dropped a 1-0 decision to Darien last Tuesday. “We are definitely really proud of our effort today.”
The Rams outshot the Cards 24-18 but didn’t capitalize on most of their scoring chances.
“They (Greenwich) took it to us and deserved everything they got,” New Canaan coach Rich Bulan said. “Hopefully, it’s a wake-up call on what we need to do better. “We’ve had some good wins — we’ve beaten Darien, we beat Hamden — but Greenwich was our big test.”
Ellsworth, a senior forward, gave Greenwich a 1-0 lead with 8:50 remaining in the first period. With the Cardinals controlling the puck in the Rams’ zone, Ellsworth scored after being setup by junior forward Paige Finneran. Junior forward Hayley Duffy also assisted on the goal.
The Cardinals widened their lead to 2-0 when Kelly tallied 2:35 later. The junior forward put a shot from the right faceoff circle past Rams goalie Blythe Novick, giving the home two a two-goal advantage.
“A big part of our game was coming out and getting the first two goals,” Kelly said. “We needed a little more execution in the second period, but we were really happy with the first and third periods. Losing to Darien was a wake-up call and hopefully, this will put us back on the right track.”
Greenwich held an 8-5 shots-on-goal advantage in the first period.
The Rams had a chance to close to within 2-1 with 9:14 to go in the second period, but Aselin made one of her 17 saves off a penalty shot. After Greenwich was penalized, freshman Anika Curri was awarded a penalty shot. She skated in and snapped a shot toward the net from close in, but Aselin made a stick-side save, keeping the Rams off the scoreboard.
“I was really scared at first, but once I stopped it, it was the best feeling ever,” Aselin said. “Everyone was cheering and it felt good to help my team that way.”
New Canaan also went on a two-minute power play with 7:26 left in the second period, but Greenwich’s penalty kill was solid. The Rams also killed Greenwich’s power play opportunity late in the second period.
EXPANDING THEIR LEAD
New Canaan had a chance to cut into Greenwich’s advantage, as it went on power play again early in the third period.
Yet a shorthanded goal by sophomore defender Sydney Orszulak put the Rams in a 3-0 hole. Orszulak got loose on a breakaway and snuck her snap shot inside the right post with 11:17 to go in the final period.
Receiving a pass from Ellsworth at just below the blue line, Piotrzkowski converted a blistering shot, putting the Cards in front, 4-0, with 8:13 still left in the third period.
Junior defender Jessica Eccleston put New Canaan on the scoreboard, getting her stick on a rebound off her own shot and knocking it past Aselin.
“I thought we had some fire in the third period,” said Bulan, whose squad outshot GHS 10-3 during the final period, but was outscored 2-1. “It is one of those games that’s a mystery. I’ve seen us play better, but we were not the better team tonight. They are a solid team — they’re the defending FCIAC champions for a reason.”
Novick who faced a lot of pressure, made 23 saves in goal for New Canaan, which was led defensively by McKenna Harden and Eccleston.
PLAYER OF THE GAME
Supported by defenders Jennie Piotrzkowski, Orszulak Emily Bello and Katie Piotrzkowski, Aselin was outstanding in goal for the victors.
“She has shown she can handle the pressure between the pipes,” Lerchen said. “She was really steady throughout the game.”
“After the Darien game we knew we had to come out strong and build momentum up as a team if we want to achieve what we did last year,” Aselin said.
GREENWICH 4, NEW CANAAN 1
NEW CANAAN 0 0 1 — 1
GREENWICH 2 0 2 — 4
Scoring: NC — Jessica Eccleston; G — Riley Ellsworth, Jennifer Kelly, Sydney Orszulak, Katie Piotrzkowski; Assists: G — Paige Finneran, Hayley Duffy, Ellsworth; Goalies: NC — Blythe Novick (17 saves); G — Jessie Aselin (23 saves).
Records: Greenwich 8-1; New Canaan 9-2