Darien Mite A, sponsored by Connecticut Property Management, traveled to Marlborough, MA to compete in the NYHL Mite A Division and came home with the tournament championship.
Against the West Hartford Wolves, Darien trailed by a goal with just seconds left on the clock. A scuffle in the Wolves' crease led to Darien being awarded a penalty shot. Kyle Patrick took the puck from the dot and with one quick move, unbalanced the goalie and buried the puck to secure a 2-2 tie.
Next up were the Southern CT Stars, whose continued pressure kept Darien on its toes, but Darien grinded out a 3-1 victory which put two points on the board.
Early the next morning, the team took on the West Haven's Blue Devils. In a high-pressure game where the lead changed hands five times, Darien gave up the game-winner with just 13 seconds remaining, making the final score 6-5.
At midday, Darien faced the Western Junior Colonials with Gavin Moffatt manning the net. Trading goals until late in the second period, Darien finally got its legs back, got out in front and didn't let the Colonials back in the game. With a final score of 6-2, Darien secured the second seed spot in the tournament final.
It was only fitting that Darien would again face the Devils in the finals, a team it had failed to beat in five previous attempts. The team drew inspiration from the 1980 US Olympic by having a team showing of "Miracle on Ice" the night before.
Matthew DellaRusso stood tall in net the entire game, anchoring the team as he had in three of the four group games. The line of Andrew Gebicki, Moffat and Josephine Williams was flying, generating relentless pressure on their opponents.
Ashton Healey was the first to light the lamp for Darien, with line-mates Henry Gregory and Grafton Ely swarming the Devils and denying them any chance to back check. Healey outmuscled the defenseman and worked his way to the net, lifting the puck over the goalie's glove.
The efforts of defensive pair of Brady Pokorny and Jack Gifford on the blueline and their hustle in the neutral zone starved West Haven of the puck. Charlie Coutts and Tauson Pfeifle stifled any offensive surges by the Devils and generated many offensive opportunities for their own team. This pair helped advance the puck which led to Gregory's goal in the second period coming from one of his trademark angles.
At the start of the third, with Carter Hall and Patrick getting the puck deep and marking their men, Patrick Thurlow pounced on a loose puck and buried it to extend the lead to 3-0.
With 7:30 to play, the Devils finally got on the scoreboard. George Foster and Max Benson played strong defense and the entire team never lost its focus. Coach DellaRusso and his team of Ely, Gifford and Thurlow urged the players on, and with the crowd on its feet, the final buzzer sounded to give Darien the 3-1 win.
"This is the team effort we have been looking for all season," Coach DellaRusso said. "The team really came together today and played for each other, it was awesome to witness."