The Darien girls hockey team went 343 days between games, and when the Blue Wave finally hit the ice on Saturday, they made sure it was a contest to remember.
In a faceoff between two teams who reached the final four of last winter’s CHSGHA state tournament, Kelly Raymond scored in each of the first two periods and Darien defeated New Canaan 2-1 Saturday night at the Darien Ice House.
Darien head coach Jamie Tropsa, who has coached many of the Darien and New Canaan girls with the Ice Cats travel program, said the talent runs deep on both rosters.
“It is so much fun to see the level of New Canaan against Darien getting higher and higher,” Tropsa said. “That was just a great game. I’ve had the honor of coaching a lot of those kids on both teams since they were little, and it is so great to see how good they are now.”
The result gave the Wave a winning start to the new season, while New Canaan, which beat Ridgefield 5-1 on Wednesday, dropped to 1-1.
“It was a great game,” New Canaan coach Rich Bulan said. “The thing I was happiest about, even though it’s a loss, is that we didn’t let it turn into a blowout or anything. We came back and played a really good third period.”
Raymond, a senior co-captain, opened the scoring with an assist from Kelsey Brown at 8:48 of the first period, shortly after the Wave had killed a penalty.
Raymond then doubled the lead with another goal, this time assisted by Morgan Massey and Olivia Toscano, at 5:49 of the second stanza.
“She’s probably got the best shot on our team and she might have the best shot in the league,” Tropsa said of Raymond. “She’s a goal-scorer. She’s a dominant player and very dynamic. She has the knack of wanting the puck, wanting to shoot, and wanting to score.”
New Canaan cut into the deficit when Grace Crowell netted a goal 3:56 into the third period, with assists from Kaleigh Harden and Amanda Benson.
The Rams were unable to equalize in the final 11:04 as Darien goalie Claire Haupt (18 saves) pitched a shutout the rest of the way.
“We looked nervous and disorganized at first, and that’s taking nothing away from Darien because they played great. They took advantage and they outplayed us,” Bulan said. “In that third period, we outshot them and we outplayed them, and the great thing was we snapped out of it and started playing our game. All three lines started to click.”
SEE YOU SOON
The two rivals will be seeing a lot of each other this season. Unable to fill out the full 12-game schedule as non-conference games are not in play this winter, New Canaan and Darien have three meetings scheduled during the regular season – the next two head-to-head games are March 6 and 9 – and they could clash a fourth time in the FCIAC tournament.
“We’re hoping for four,” Tropsa said. “These are great, great games and you can’t argue that at all. If we can play New Canaan as many times as we can, it’s great competition and the girls are getting something out of it and having a lot of fun.”