GREENWICH -- As Greenwich learned all too well Monday, special teams is one of the Darien High School boys hockey team's main strengths.
Forced to kill off five penalties after the Cardinals closed to within two goals, the Blue Wave held Greenwich off the scoreboard in the final period and added yet another impressive win to their ledger.
The Blue Wave, which advanced to the FCIAC finals last season, raised their record to 9-1-1 overall and a perfect 5-0 in the conference thanks in large part to strong special teams play.
"To kill off five penalties in a row with a 3-1 lead, I have to give my team props and kudos for that," Darien coach Chris Gerwig said. "That's a great job against a team that's been playing well. This is a tough place to play and Greenwich is a very well-coached team, so I'm proud of my guys for killing off so many penalties."
The Cardinals (6-4), who had their four-game winning streak snapped, are still in good position in the FCIAC, holding a 3-1 conference mark.
"Our team is headed in the right direction," Greenwich coach Bob Russel said. "We have improved a lot since the beginning of the season, so we're going to keep our heads up and keep on building from where we are now. Darien is stacked with a lot of seniors and they really make you pay for your mistakes, which was the case tonight."
Darien took the lead for good 3 minutes, 5 seconds into the first period. Junior defenseman Jack Massie slid the puck to senior Brendan Hathaway, who snapped a shot from the slot past GHS sophomore goalie Bryan Archino, putting the visitors in front, 1-0. Sophomore Jack Pardue's tallied off a tip-in after Hathaway's shot bounced off Archino's pads with 39 seconds left in the opening period, making it a 2-0 game.
A Darien tripping penalty put Greenwich on the power play 4:11 into the second period, but the Blue Wave wound up extending their lead. Watters was the beneficiary of a fortunate bounce, as his high shot caromed over the goalie's shoulder for a shorthanded goal, putting GHS in a 3-0 hole.
"That shorthanded goal gave us a boost and helped us keep the momentum," Gerwig said. "The other night against Trinity Catholic we had two shorthanded goals in a span of 45 seconds, so we've done a good job when we've been in those situations."
The Cards worked their way back into the game later in the period. Sophomore forward Alex Bastone sent the puck to sophomore forward Decker Curran, who put a one-timer past goalie Michael Collins, while charging to the net, cutting Darien's advantage to 3-1 with 6:21 to go in the second period. Darien was whistled for a slashing penalty the final seconds of the second period, putting Greenwich on the power play to start the third period. The Cardinals didn't capitalize though, as the Blue Wave penalty kill was in top form.
"Watters, Hathaway, Trent Bergin -- those guys have been doing a wonderful job on the penalty kill," Gerwig said. "Their speed and skill makes a big difference."(Bergin said coming out strong against a Greenwich team that had been on a roll was significant.
"We put two pucks in the net early and that's what we needed to do," Bergin said. "The neutral zone is small here, so it's hard to play here. But we were able to get the puck deep, put pressure on their defensemen and get shots on net."
Watters notched his second goal with 6:09 remaining in the final period and senior Jack Knowlton tallied less than two minutes later, putting Darien comfortably ahead, 5-1.
DARIEN 2 1 2 -- 5
GREENWICH 0 1 0 -- 1
Goals: D -- Thomas Watters 2, Jack Pardue, Brendan Hathaway, Jack Knowlton; G -- Decker Curran. Assists: D -- Hathaway 2, Trent Bergin 2, Knowlton, Jack Massie; G -- Alex Bastone. Goalies: D -- Michael Collins (15 saves); G -- Bryan Archino (18 saves).