Chik Chatting: Blue Wave to play for title
Updated 2:50 pm, Thursday, March 1, 2012
The Darien boys hockey team is on its way to the FCIAC Championship game, and it has certainly earned its spot among the final two teams left standing in the conference.
Boasting an overall regular season record of 15-5, including 11-1 in the FCIAC, Darien claimed the top seed in the FCIAC tournament and received a first round playoff bye after shaking off a 1-3 start to its season.
But none of that would have meant much if the Blue Wave had stumbled in their first postseason game. They did not.
Needing to clear the hurdle that is crosstown rival New Canaan, the Darien boys hockey team responded by playing one of its best games of the season en route to a 5-2 victory in the FCIAC semifinals. After spotting the defending FCIAC Champions an early 1-0 lead, the Blue Wave scored three goals in the final 5:03 of the opening period and never relinquished the lead.
And, as is typically needed in postseason competition, several of Darien's most prominent players seemed to be playing at the top of their game when it counted most. Brenden Hathaway gave his team the lead and twice increased the Blue Wave advantage to two goals while netting a hat trick, Alec Foresta picked up an assist on all three of Hathaway's goals, Nick Bruno lit the lamp to tie the game at 1-1 and Max Rothston stopped 23 of 25 shots.
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Darien faces off against No. 2 Ridgefield, which also enters the championship game with an 11-1 FCIAC regular season record. Also the beneficiaries of a first round playoff bye, Ridgefield opened up its postseason with a lopsided 6-0 win over No. 3 St. Joseph in Wednesday night's other semifinal game.
And while seeds and records don't mean a whole lot in a single elimination playoff tournament, it is still worth noting that Darien scored a 4-2 win over Ridgefield in their lone regular season meeting at the Darien Ice Rink on Feb. 11.
In that game, Ridgefield took a 1-0 lead before anyone could blink, only to see Darien knot the game 30 seconds later, as each team scored on its first shot. The Darien goal was a prelude of things to come, as it scored four in a row to open up a 4-1 lead before Ridgefield scored with less than a minute remaining. On that night, Ridgefield's 14-game winning streak came to an end, as Darien claimed its 11th straight victory.
With considerably less on the line in the regular season, the Blue Wave and Tigers nonetheless put on a show for anyone in attendance. With an FCIAC crown up for grabs on Saturday, this one could be an instant classic.