STAMFORD — The Darien High School girls ice hockey program has been a consistent power in the state of Connecticut.

The 2016-17 Darien squad has the same ambitions to chase the same standards as past Blue Wave teams.

The difference this season is Darien is making the journey with just three returning seniors on its roster.

The Blue Wave kids were all right Saturday afternoon as they fashioned a business-like 7-0 triumph over the Stamford-Westhill-Staples Co-op at Terry Conners rink.

“We are light on seniors. But they are the right seniors. And they are getting the message across to our newcomers (eight freshmen),” said Darien’s veteran coach Jamie Tropsa. “We had a few injuries. But I feel the group is headed in the right direction. This team has what it takes to succeed. But I am still putting pieces in place in anticipation of our big (postseason) games down the road.”

Darien (7-3 overall, 5-1 FCIAC) extended its winning streak to five straight contests and entered Saturday at No. 8 in the unofficial state girls ice hockey team rankings.

The Blue Wave took the will out of Stamford-Westhill-Staples by scoring four times in the final 3:41 while building a 6-0 lead after the first period.

Junior Elise Maro and freshman Katie Daileader each had two goals on the day while juniors Corinne Bevill and Emma Love along with freshman Caitlin Chan also tallied for Darien.

To its credit, Darien concentrated on puck possession rather than scoring in the second period and focused on its eight freshmen and five sophomores getting more ice time in the third period.

“It is a balancing act worrying about the present and the future within the same game,” Darien’s Tropsa said. “We have talented groups in each grade (ninth thru 12th). We have to keep developing kids and gaining experience.”

Darien senior tri-captain Emily Gianunzio had two saves in her one period of work while freshman goalie Hallie Kreppein added four saves over the final 30 minutes to combine on the shutout.

As for Stamford-Westhill-Staples (2-7 overall, 2-4 FCIAC), SWS is finding out what a luxury goalie Claire Parry was the previous three seasons.

The SWS program had grown to the point of qualifying for its first FCIAC playoff appearance last season.

But goalies are hard to find in girls ice hockey. Westhill sophomore Mary Leydon volunteered to get in net this season.

Leydon has been heroic despite a lack of experience at the position.

But all the intense forechecking SWS did in the past because they knew Parry was there to save and save had been traded in for a more defensive posture and style.

Add in the usual assorted injuries to key players and SWS has struggled this 2016-17 campaign.

“This isn’t the start to the season we wanted. Today I thought we were soft in the first period,” said SWS veteran coach Phil Miolene as Darien’s physicality ruled. “Our third- period surge was too little, too late. Although only a sophomore, Mary (Leydon) has stepped up to the challenge. She is a leader on this squad.”

The good news is Stamford-Westhill-Staples has 10 games left in the regular season. The bad news is the challenge begins with road contests against powers Greenwich and New Canaan.

“We should get some of our injured people back soon,” Miolene said. “We just have to stick with it and see where we can take the season. We’re not done yet.”

RDePreta@Stamford

advocate.com

DARIEN 7,

STAMFORD CO-OP 0

DARIEN 6 0 1—7

STAM-WEST-STAPLES 0 0 0—0

Records: Darien 7-3 overall, 5-1 FCIAC; Stamford-Westhill-Staples 2-7, 2-4 FCIAC.

Goals: D—Elise Maro 2, Katie Daileader 2, Corinne Bevill, Emma Love, Caitlin Chan. Assists: D—Bevill, Courtney Lowe, Shea van den Broek 2, Sally Cassidy 2, Love, Cate Droogan. Goalies: D—Emily Gianunzio (2 saves, 1st period), Hallie Kreppein (4 saves, last 2 periods). SWS—Mary Leydon (17 saves).