GREENWICH — Since losing to Greenwich on Dec. 29, the losses have been very few and far between for the Darien boys hockey team, in fact, the Blue Wave entered Monday night’s showdown against the Cardinals on a 10-game winning streak.
Scoring two goals apiece in the second and third period, the Blue Wave continued to ride their month-long success streak.
Senior forward Hudson Pokorny and junior forward Bennett McDermott registered one goal and one assist apiece for Darien in its 4-2 victory over FCIAC rival Greenwich in a physical matchup at Dorothy Hamill Skating Rink.
Monday marked the final game of the regular season for Greenwich, which will get either the fourth or fifth seed in the FCIAC Tournament, which commences on Saturday with the quarterfinal round. Darien is locked into the No. 2 seed and has bye into the semifinals.
The Blue Wave (15-4, 10-1 FCIAC) received 21 saves from senior goalie Henri Pfeifle, a goal from sophomore forward Sean Bradley and one goal and one assist from senior defenseman James Gregory. Darien held a 2-0 lead, before Greenwich used a spirited comeback to tie the score at 2-2 in the third period.
“We knew it was going to be a tough game, we knew what we were getting into,” Darien coach Mac Budd said. “We played them earlier in the season and it was a fast-paced, physical game. They are a fast and physical team and their rink dimensions are a little shorter, so we knew what type of game it was going to be. Overall, we did a good job. We got a little undisciplined at times with our penalties, but I liked our intensity and overall performance.”
Greenwich, which paid tribute to its 12 seniors on its Senior Night prior to the game, got a goal apiece from senior forwards/captains Sean Pratley and Matt Davey. Freshman Charles Zolin made 31 saves in goal for the Cardinals (9-9-2, 6-4-1 FCIAC).
“The team came out really hard, we were disciplined, playing the body and doing all the simple stuff,” GHS assistant coach Dave Maloney said. “We lost a little bit of focus in the third period and Darien is a good team and you need to play 45 minutes to be effective against Darien. They capitalize on your mistakes and the second you take your foot off the gas they come right at you.”
Trailing 2-1, Greenwich evened the score on Davey’s power play goal from the right wing with 14:07 left in the third period. Setting Davey up for the goal were seniors Julian Ribushofski and Nic Pelletier-Martinelli.
The score didn’t remained tied for long though. Following the ensuing face-off, Darien brought the puck into Greenwich’s zone and McDermott tallied off a quick rush up the ice, making it 4-3 at the 13:27 mark of the final period.
On a power play, the Blue Wave got some breathing room when Gregory converted a shot from the right face-off circle with 5:12 remaining, putting the visitors on top, 4-2.
“In a game like this with a lot of penalties, tensions were flaring,” Pokorny said. “We did a good job of trying to stay poised when we had to. We let our emotions get the best of us for the most part in a high intensity game.”
Pokorny assisted on Gregory’s tally.
“When they tied the game, we just tried to stick to the game plan,” Pokorny said. “We felt that we played well for most of the first two periods and we stayed aggressive and we were able to put them right back in the net. We are riding a big winning streak, so it’s good to go into the playoffs on a big winning streak.”
Said Gregory: “It was important for us to get the puck deep and put bodies on them. They are a physical team, so we wanted to keep the puck in their end as much as possible. Those games are tough on your body, because you are getting hit constantly, but these games can give your team momentum as well. Coming into this game, it’s not hard to come here upset, because we lost to them last time and we wanted to come back and beat them.”
After a scoreless first period, Darien seized a 1-0 edge on Bradley’s goal at the 7:22 mark. Shortly after a face-off, Porkorny notched a goal with 3:30 left in the second period, giving the Blue Wave a 2-0 lead.
“We actually had the play drawn up for James for a one-timer off the face-off, but the winger came to go play him, so I cut to the middle and shot it and luckily it went in,” Porkony said of his goal.
The first period saw Zolin make 12 saves, as he made a pair of glove shots off shots from the point from Gregory.
“I feel good about how our team is playing,” Maloney said. “I feel confident about our boys moving forward, the foundation is there, we just have to focus on putting together 45 minutes of good hockey.”
With 1:54 to go in the second stanza, Pratley got loose on a breakaway, skated down the left wing, cut to the middle and snapped a short shot past Pfeifle, cutting Darien’s lead to 2-1. Pratley and Davey were strong offensively throughout for the Cards.
“They scored two power play goals and without those goals it was a tight game,” Pratley said. “We just have to come out mentally strong and I think we’ll be all set. We are finally finding the back of the net and if we keep playing our game we will have a good run in the playoffs.”
Added senior captain Charlie Graves: “In the last period, we lost our composure a little bit. We had to just swallow our pride and we didn’t. This gives us motivation for the playoffs, we just can’t take too many penalties. Now we’re looking forward to the playoffs.”
DARIEN 4, GREENWICH 2
DARIEN 0 2 2 — 4
GREENWICH 0 1 1 — 2
Goals: D — Hudson Pokorny, Sean Bradley, Bennett McDermott, James Gregory; G — Sean Pratley, Matt Davey; Assists: D — Jamison Moore, Bradley, Matt Daileader, CJ Hathaway, James Gregory 2; G — Isaac Cadigan, Nic Pelletier-Martinelli, Thatcher Danielson; Goalies: D — Henri Pfeifle (21 saves); G — Charles Zolin (31 saves).