DARIEN -- Coming into play with a perfect record and having outscored their last three opponents by 21 goals, the Darien girls hockey team was hungry for a challenge. And it got one when out-of-conference Simsbury, which had also won all of its games, paid a visit to the Darien Ice Rink on Saturday.
Both teams left with their unbeaten marks still intact after a 3-3 tie, but for Darien, which rallied out of a two-goal deficit with less than seven minutes remaining, getting another point in the standings was a nice consolation.
"We could have packed it in after the second period and we didn't. The girls never quit," Darien coach Jamie Tropsa said. "That's what makes me the proudest. The attitude in that locker room between the second and third was `hey, let's go get this done.' That's a good team, and I'd love to play them every day because we would continually get better."
Darien was down 3-1 entering the third period, and it stayed that way until 6;25 remained, when the Blue Wave's Schuyler VandenBroek got her team to within striking defense by stuffing a rebound into the Simsbury net. That rebound was set up by a shot on goal by Julia Arrix.
With 3:06 remaining, Darien pulled even for the first time since the first period when Georgia Cassidy gained control of the puck in the neutral zone, weaved in and out of Simsbury defenders and buried a wrist shot.
"I think we really pulled it off coming from behind. Simsbury has always been a very strong and we've proven that we are as well," Darien captain Lily Christensen said. "Watching Schuyler VandenBroek and Georgia Cassidy score those two goals was amazing. I think I jumped like six feet off the ice. It felt great. It was very rewarding to play against a team that's very, very good and play well."
Although he witnessed his team surrender a two-goal lead, Simsbury coach Kris Arnold was not disappointed with the outcome.
"There was a physical battle for sure. They're a tough team. They skate the puck out of their end and they're well coached," Arnold said. "I'm OK with (the tie) either way. We had a puck that just missed the post in the third period and one in overtime too. It was one of those games where the puck could have bounced either way."
Simsbury required only 36 seconds to take its first lead of the game when Maeve Reynolds scored on a backhand after receiving a pass from Laura Yablecki.
Just two minutes later, Darien pulled even when Allegra Molkenthin passed from behind the Simsbury net to Lauren Cicero, who scored from short-range to knot the score at 1-1. Christy Conley was also credited with an assist.
Simsbury was able to keep the puck deep in the Darien zone in the final minutes of the second period, and Jordan Arnold scored on a shot from the blue line to give her team a 3-1 with 20 seconds remaining in the stanza. Hayley Aubin notched the assist for the Trojans.
"I'll play all the Darien's and New Canaan's I can," Arnold said. "This is what we play for; these are good games."
Both teams had opportunities in the eight-minute sudden death period, but neither could solve the opposition's netminder. Simsbury's Dani Sullivan made 28 saves, while Darien's Shannon Hall stopped all nine shots that she faced in the third period and overtime. Darien's Izzy Scribano played the first two periods, coming up with nine saves of her own.
"We needed to be challenged at this time of the year and we got that today," Tropsa said.
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SIMSBURY 3, DARIEN 3
DARIEN................................ 1 0 2 0--3
NEW CANAAN................... 1 2 0 0--3
Records: Simsbury 4-0-1, Darien 4-0-1 (2-0-0 FCIAC).
Goals: S--Maeve Reynolds, Tess MacKay, Jordan Arnold; D--Lauren Cicero, Schuyler VandenBroek, Georgia Cassidy. Assists: S--Reynolds, Nathalie Melanson, Hayley Aubin; D--Allegra Molkenthin, Christy Conley, Julia Arrix. Goalies: S--Dani Sullivan (28 saves); D--Izzy Scribano (9), Shannon Hall (9). Shots: S--21; D--31.