Xavier High School boys ice hockey coach Dan DeConti witnessed firsthand, what it was like to play against Greenwich and Darien -- the two finalists in the CIAC Division I hockey tournament -- having faced each team this season. DeConti's Falcons skated to a 2-0 regular season win over the Cardinals and dropped a 3-1 decision to the Blue Wave in Wednesday's Division I tournament semifinals at Ingalls Rink.

Here is DeConti's opinion on the Greenwich-Darien matchup -- a championship game marking the first time two FCIAC squads have appeared in the Division I final since 1998.

WHEN DARIEN HAS THE PUCK: "I was very impressed with Darien offensively," DeConti said. "They have three solid lines that they could run and all their players have speed and good size to them too. When we played them in the semifinals, it was the first time all season anyone matched up with us speed-for-speed.

Like everyone, I think Greenwich knows they have to watch out for Jack Pardue (two goals in Darien's win vs. Xavier) he is a standout. Seeing him for the first time, I was very impressed. He handles the puck so well and he does a great job of finding open areas all around."

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What?: No. 1 Greenwich (21-2-2) vs. No. 2 Darien (22-2-1) in CIAC Division I boys hockey final
When?: Saturday, 2 p.m.
Where?: Ingalls Rink, New Haven

WHEN GREENWICH HAS THE PUCK: "Greenwich has come a long way from where they were the past few years," DeConti said. "Part of their issue is sometimes they've taken a lot of penalties, as they did against us. But I think they've done a better job in that area lately, they didn't seem to take too many the other night.

Greenwich's top line has a lot of speed, but the one thing I saw from them that I didn't see from Darien is their physicality. They're a physical group, which Darien has to contend with."

FINAL THOUGHTS: "This year was the first time I played both teams and I could tell that both coaches run a great program," DeConti said. "Playing a team back-to-back two weeks after playing in a conference final is tough for both teams. Greenwich's defensemen move the puck well, they really look to get the puck out of the zone. Darien looked to chip the puck out of the zone against us.

Darien has (Will) Massie in goal and he is tough to beat because of his size. He's not just a big kid, he's a big kid who is tough, which makes Darien tough to score on. They've given up just one goal in each game in the tournament, so Greenwich has to find ways to score."

david.fierro@scni.com