— Michael Fornabaio (@fornabaioctp) February 6, 2020
BRIDGEPORT — It was nothing like the high-flying, blink-and-miss-two-goals first meeting between Darien and Fairfield Prep 17 days ago. It was a pitched battle, playoff-intensity, between the top two teams in the GameTimeCT boys hockey poll, and if they want to do this again in March, most of the state will probably sign up for it.
And it came down to the last minute Wednesday night, when Darien’s Jamison Moore followed a shot off the post with 42.8 seconds left to give the No. 2 Blue Wave a 2-1 win over No. 1 Fairfield Prep at the Wonderland of Ice.
“We knew we had to play a lot better than we did last time, because that was clearly not their best game,” Moore said. “We were ready for battle.”
The teams combined for 41 shots, 22 of them the Jesuits, and as Fairfield Prep coach Matt Sather said, 41 sounds more like the shot total for one team in a usual Jesuits-Blue Wave game.
After their first meeting, a 6-3 Darien win on Jan. 20 at Darien Ice House, Blue Wave coach Mac Budd said he was looking for more consistency from his team. He thinks it’s getting there.
— Erik Dobratz (@Erikd25) February 6, 2020
“Ironically, the one game where we didn’t was the Prep game, but other than that, we have got off to a slow start,” said Budd, whose team is 9-4.
“I thought we got going certainly at the end of the first period (Wednesday) and we had a good second and third period. We told our guys they had to be ready to push back, and I thought they did.”
The teams traded unlikely first-period goals Wednesday, and the defense and goaltenders went to work from there in a physical contest, sometimes on or over the edge of the rulebook.
Both Darien’s Chris Schofield and Fairfield Prep’s Andrew Stietzel made key saves to keep it even.
In the last minute, Darien’s Bennett McDermott carried the puck behind his goal line and fired a pass to Sam Erickson near the red line. Erickson beat his man to make it a two-on-one and fired a shot off the post.
Moore, coming from the right, hit the open side.
“I saw the puck, shot it in, went crazy,” Moore said. “Just driving to the net.”
Fairfield Prep, which had outscored three top-10 opponents by a combined 20-1 since that first Darien game, is 7-5-1.
“It was a lot of in-between stuff, passing when we should’ve skated, passing instead of shooting,” Sather said.
“They’re good enough to make you pay for all those little mistakes. They’re a hard team to play possession against, because they’re aggressive and fast and deep. It’s hard to just sort of possess the puck and wait for your spots. You’ve got to force it a bit, and when we did that, we made bad decisions.”
PLAYER OF THE GAME
Jamison Moore went to the net to finish it off.
Jesuits defenseman Seamus Carolan scored 2:30 into the game, a left-point shot that snuck through and trickled across the goal line. Darien’s Matt Fiorita answered with 4:05 left in the first off Danny Lowe’s centering pass.
“We’ve just worked on playing the same way all three periods, because one of our biggest problems has been taking a period off. … Playing hard, going in, grabbing our lunchpail every shift.” —Moore
“It’ll be a great film to learn from. When you play good teams that expose your weaknesses, you can learn a lot.” —Fairfield Prep coach Matt Sather