DARIEN -- The Darien boys hockey team hasn't been the beneficiary of any early-season layups, but that hasn't stopped the Blue Wave from storming out of the starting blocks and emerging as an early-season title contender.
Going up against its third brand name opponent in as many games to start the campaign, the Blue Wave took advantage of their scoring opportunities and cruised to a 4-1 victory over New Canaan at the Darien Ice Rink Saturday evening. The win comes on the heels of a 1-0 road win over Fairfield Prep and a 4-2 Opening Night loss at Hamden.
Connor Davis scored the first and third of Darien's goals, the former coming on a blistering slap shot 10:59 into the opening period and the latter occurring after he chased down his own rebound just past the midway point of the second.
"Jack Pardue hit me on the far side there, and I just put my head down and unleashed on the shot and luckily it went right up into the upper corner," Davis said. "It's a great game to be a part of and the atmosphere is just incredible out here."
New Canaan (2-2) earned a power play opportunity just 25 seconds into the second period before taking a penalty of its own, meaning the teams skated four aside for over a minute.
The extra real estate seemed to help both sides, as New Canaan's Peter Reinhardt assisted Patrick Hompe to bring the Rams even at 1-1 just 1:40 into the middle frame. The tie was short-lived, however, as Tommy Waters scored unassisted 31 seconds later, putting the Blue Wave on top to stay.
"It should never have happened. They came to play. I think we had some issues, and they were the better team tonight," New Canaan coach Bo Hickey said. "Tonight I just don't think we played with a lot of enthusiasm and that's a shame but it happens. They're kids. You watch guys making $10 million a year and they have bad nights too."
"When you can respond like that it's big because let's face it: they tied it 1-1 and we were taking some bad penalties there," Darien coach Chris Gerwig said. "To bounce back there was big for our guys to let us settle back in and get back to our game plan. It was good that we didn't let the momentum change."
As usual, the New Canaan-Darien encounter was emotionally charged, but there weren't too many fireworks. The exception was a second-period skirmish in front of the Darien between New Canaan's Ryan McMahon and Darien's Jack Purdue. Both were assessed roughing penalties.
"The one thing we talked about in practice all week was trying to keep emotions in check because you can get caught up in the raucous crowd going crazy and you know this guy and you're trying to hit him," Gerwig said. "I was very pleased with only three penalties. Stay disciplined, stay out of the box and give yourselves a chance to win."
New Canaan generated a few scoring chances early in the third period, but Darien goalie Michael Colon was up to the task, stopping 24 of the 25 shots he faced. During one sequence, Colon stopped three consecutive shots, including two by Henry Stanton before covering the puck.
Darien earned a three-goal cushion 7:01 into the third period when Tighe Sullivan went top shelf.
"I think we're waiting for the next guy to do something instead of us taking the initiative individually and doing something," Hickey said. "I guarantee you the next time you see us take the ice it'll be different."
Colon and his defense took care of the rest, shutting down the Rams the rest of the way.
"There's always positive energy and we just try to take it one game at a time," Colon said. "Our defense has played great and it's been a huge week for us to beat one of the best teams in the state and our archrival."
email@example.com; Twitter: @jchik17
DARIEN 4, NEW CANAAN 1
NEW CANAAN 0 1 0--1
DARIEN 1 2 1--4
Records: Darien 2-1, New Canaan 2-2. Goals: NC--Patrick Hompe D--Connor Davis 2, Tommy Watters, Tighe Sullivan. Assists: NC--Peter Reinhardt; D--Jack Pardue. Goalies: NC--Mac Wright (26 saves); D--Michael Colon (24). Shots: D--30, NC--25.