STAMFORD -- It is virtually impossible to predict what is about to happen anytime the New Canaan and Darien boys hockey teams face off. The New Canaan-Darien rivalry occasionally seems to take on a life of its own, perhaps even surpassing the game itself.

During Wednesday night's FCIAC semifinals clash at Terry Conners Ice Rink, however, the rivalry took a back seat to each team's simple goal of continuing its postseason run to the FCIAC title game.

With each side supported by a raucous student section, it was the Blue Wave who came away with a 5-2 win over the Rams to advance to Saturday's FCIAC Championship game. Darien will play No. 2 Ridgefield for the crown Saturday at 6 p.m. at Terry Conners.

Darien's Brenden Hathaway scored his team's second, third and fourth goals to spark the Darien attack.

"We needed to come out hard, and it was good to put in a hat trick. The last game [against New Canaan] we all came out soft and the intensity was not there," Hathaway said. "Tonight we just made sure it was there and made sure we were up before the game. My linemates, Trent Bergin and Alec Foresta, were working hard too. They were setting me up with goals and we had some good chemistry tonight. "

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Although Darien eventually pulled away for the three-goal win, it was New Canaan which struck first, as Dylan Hart beat Darien goalie Max Rothston for a 1-0 lead less than two minutes into the contest.

"It's definitely an accomplishment to make it to the semifinals, but we definitely would have liked to win, especially after beating them 4-0 last time," said Granito, who assisted on Hart's goal. "We scored a goal, and then after that we just kind of died. You definitely can't win a game like that. You have to play all 45 minutes of a hockey game. I've got to give credit to Darien; they came out ready to play."

In a furious finish to the opening period, Darien scored three goals in the final 5:03, the first courtesy of Nick Bruno, who scored on a rebound after New Canaan goalie Chris Koennecke made a save on George Gregory.

"When you've worked this hard to be in a situation like this, your leaders and your captains are supposed to step it up, and they did that," said Darien coach Chris Gerwig, referring to team captains Hathaway, Bruno and Rothston. "Coming off of a 4-0 beating from them last time, I didn't think it would be too hard to get them motivated for this game. Max Rothston made some big saves to keep us in it early."

Less than two minutes later, Hathaway put his team in front for good at 2-1 after putting home a rebound during a scramble in front of the New Canaan net. Foresta and Bergin were each credited with an assist.

With 55 seconds remaining in the first, Foresta found Hathaway again by sending the puck from behind the New Canaan net to his teammate, who scored from short range.

"Darien outplayed us tonight; it's a very simple thing. This is your next-door neighbor and every time you play, records mean nothing," New Canaan coach Bo Hickey said. "We played well in spurts, and they played consistently the whole night. They deserve what they got."

New Canaan nearly got one back in the first 30 seconds of the second period, but Henry Stanton's shot drew iron before bouncing away from the Darien net. Stanton did, however, manage to shrink the Darien lead to a goal by scoring midway through the second period after being assisted by Puck Richardson and Jonathan Stanton.

Just 1:22 into the third period, Darien extended its lead to 4-2 on Hathaway's third goal. Foresta picked up his third assist and Bergin notched his second.

New Canaan managed to keep the puck in the Darien zone for much of the third period, but the Rams ultimately couldn't get another shot past Rothston, and John Knowlton's empty netter with 1:31 remaining sealed the game. Dana Wensberg got the assist.

"We were down 1-0, and we knew at that point that we couldn't give them anymore," Rothston said. "[The third period] is rough. They did a great job keeping it in the zone, but we did a great job of keeping it out [of the net]."

jchik@bcnnew.com