DARIEN – With an extra attacker, Darien senior defenseman Matt Stein took a shot from the point. The shot was deflected in, tying the game against New Canaan on Wednesday night.
Stein’s goal with 51.4 seconds left forced overtime and after a scoreless extra period the teams skated to a 4-4 tie.
The tie prevented the Darien hockey team from losing three straight games for the first time since the 2017-2018 season.
“A lot of people are (happy with the tie),” Darien senior captain Sam Erickson said. “But I am not. I am not satisfied at all.
“We all just need to open up with good shifts, work tough and hit kids out there,” he added. “We’re being a little soft in these opening games.”
Over the past decade Darien has asserted itself as one of the state’s best teams, reaching three straight title games from 2014-2016, winning in 2015 and 2016. They have developed into a program considered an annual state title contender. There is no state tournament this year due to the pandemic, but an FCIAC postseason tournament is scheduled.
After a season opening win against then No. 5 Greenwich, Darien was shutout by No. 1 Fairfield Prep and then lost in overtime to No. 3 Notre Dame-West Haven.
“I’d rather win, but there was no panic after those games,” Darien coach Mac Budd. “It wasn’t like we are far off at all.”
The team has been without GameTimeCT All-State selection Jamison Moore for the first four games and against New Canaan they were without their top defenseman Luke Johnston and center Teddy Dyer.
Erickson said that both the younger and older players are going to have to step up and buy in if the team is going to get on the right track.
“Once we all come together, I think everything will click for us,” Erickson said.
The FCIAC’s decision to allow its traditional Division I teams to play only other Division I teams instead of playing a full, round-robin league schedule has also added no room for error.
“There are no nights off,” Budd said. “If you don’t bring your A-game for almost every game, you’re going to lose the game.”
The Blue Wave has some time off. Their next game is Wednesday against Ridgefield.
“I say we get to practice tomorrow and keep working,” Erickson said. “I think we need to get a ‘W’ under our belt soon.”