When the Trumbull/St. Joseph girls hockey co-op won against Stamford/Westhill/Staples in its second game of the season on Saturday, it was a positive start for a team which had just four victories last winter.
As it turns out, it was also setting the stage for something even bigger.
Skating with just nine players and a goalie, the Eagles scored the game’s final two goals and defeated Greenwich for the first time in seven years 2-1 Monday at Hamill Skating Rink in Greenwich.
Senior co-captain Megan McCarthy scored the game-winner with 11:23 remaining with an assist from sophomore Kendall Conley.
“It was absolutely incredible,” Paula Dady, who has coached the team for 11 years, said. “We had nine skaters on the bench, that’s it. We had two lines, three defensemen and one goalie and those girls really capitalized every second they were out there. They worked the puck, they were coachable and whatever needed to be done to get that win, they did it.”
The victory gave the Eagles back-to-back wins for the first time since January, 2016. Trumbull has a 2-1 record out of the game — halfway to last year’s win total.
Greenwich, which was 13-4-3 last year and has started 3-1 this season, beat Trumbull 6-0 last year and 9-3 and 5-0 in 2018-19.
“Greenwich has always been a very powerful team not only in the FCIAC, but in the state,” Dady said. “So this win was earned, it wasn’t a fluke. We moved the puck, we worked together and we really played an incredible game.”
Greenwich had taken a lead early in the second period when Lexi Danielson hit the net at the 1:30 mark, but Conley ripped in the equalizer about eight minutes later.
“The shot that Kendall took to tie it up was magical,” Dady said. “Her shot is epic and when she decides to see what I see, she’s going to be unbelievable.”
In the third period, Conley got the puck to McCarthy, who put the Eagles ahead for good.
“Megan McCarthy is a fantastic player who skates zone to zone and she just went down, shot it lower stick side and it went in,” Dady said. “We were just so excited. We were skating short shifts because we had a short bench and everybody played their best. They gave 110%.”
Trumbull rotated just three defenders: McCarthy, Conley and freshman Devon Watson, who has shifted back from forward.
“They double shift and the three of them are impressive with their work ethic and their ability to keep going, forechecking and backchecking, and there’s never a complaint out of the three of them,” Dady said. “I get tired just watching them.”
Dady also gave credit to freshman goalie Elsa Haakonsen, who made 19 saves and has looked sharp this season.
“This is the first time in 11 years that I’ve had an experienced goalie and as a freshman, she really is stepping up and being amazing between the pipes,” Dady said.
Trumbull has just two seniors, with Marcie Silberger, a veteran forward, joining McCarthy as a co-captain.
McCarthy is a four-year varsity skater who Dady said has been a “natural leader” since her freshman season. She’s been recruited to play field hockey, and was the Eagles’ goalie in that sport as they won the FCIAC East division championship in the fall.
“With ice hockey, she just loves it and it shows every single time she steps on the ice,” Dady said. “Megan’s not only a force on the ice, but also on the bench. She’s really taken the role of ‘I’m a captain, I’m a senior and I’m a leader’.”
The Eagles will hit the ice again on Saturday when they face another of the FCIAC’s perennial contenders, New Canaan, at 4, Saturday, at The Rinks at Shelton.
“We have a tough game coming up against New Canaan on Saturday, and they’re one of the best teams in the state, but we’re going in there thinking that if we can beat Greenwich, we can beat anybody,” Dady said. “With nine players it’s hard to go against depth, but our nine players all have experience and they truly work together. Anything’s possible and I’m very confident in our nine players and our goalie.”