DARIEN -- The Senior Day ceremony for the Darien girls hockey team, held pregame to acknowledge its three seniors, was unusually and extraordinarily brief. The Blue Wave's in-game scoring, however, was anything but.
In its final home contest of the regular season, Darien (16-1) topped Wilton/Norwalk (8-7-1) last Monday 7-0 behind seven different goal scorers.
Senior Ellie Bennett, Amanda Sload, Lauren Cicero and Logan Book scored in the first period and Chandler Kirbyadded two assists. Senior starting goalie Shannon Hall posted two scoreless periods, before freshman Emily Gianunzio mopped up in the third. Bennett, Hall and forward Sage Thacher were all honored prior to puck-drop for their years of varsity play.
"When they came in as ninth graders, we didn't have that many girls," Blue Wave coach Jamie Tropsa said. "So, a lot of them were on the ice all the time ... now we have so much depth they can come off the ice and get some rest. That's the biggest difference for me. Overall, it's a really nice group of girls."
The Blue Wave showcased their depth against the Warriors right away, by rolling out four lines that pinned them inside their own end over the opening minutes. Firing puck after puck on net, Darien finally broke through at the 11:19 mark, when Book poked one home with help from Kirby and Hannah McClane. The Warriors' Emilie Arrix and Nicole Lue each responded in the ensuing moments with speedy rushes, but neither could shake the last line of Blue Wave defense.
Armed with a 1-0 lead, Darien continued to take aim over the next six minutes, only to watch their shots fruitlessly rebound. Then, Sload and Cicero tucked away two more goals within one minute of each other, and Bennett added another from the doorstep with 2:13 to go before the break.
Wilton's lone offensive highlight of the period came while the buzzer sounded, when a lobbed puck lazily struck the left post. The shot was one of four for Wilton on the night, compared to 77 for the Blue Wave.
"In the first period, we played well," Tropsa said. "We worked hard and we took a lot of shots, but we've got to learn how to finish. We take about 30 shots to get one goal. We've got to learn to put the puck in the net when we get good scoring opportunities."
Neither team could tally a goal over the middle frame, a byproduct of the uptick in physical defense. Nevertheless, Darien continued to put great pressure on the net, even if there was little to show for it in the scorebook.
"It took us a little while to get going," Hall remarked. "I don't know what happened in that second period. I think Wilton played a real good period. We needed to just settle down and once we were able to settle down, we were able to come back in the third."
At the beginning of the third period, Hall took a seat on the bench, where she watched her teammates engage in play similar that which had just ended the second.
Nearing the 10-minute mark, Cassidy tried to flip the scoreless script with a nifty, cross-ice pass that found a streaking Marissa Baker down the left wing. Baker failed to take advantage, but the resulting faceoff set up Darien's fifth goal, which came less than one minute later. Following a feed from Allegra Molkenthin and Sammy Nielson, Christy Conley cashed in for her fourth goal of the season at 9:31 left in the game.
Julia Arrix joined the party a mere 24 seconds later with a score of her own to make it 6-0 and then an assist to Molkenthin, who capped the scoring for the game.
What would the seniors remember most about their special day?
"We had a great day," Bennett said. "The underclassmen really came through and really made us feel appreciated."
"Just how special all the underclassmen made it," Hall added. "They really went all-out and made us feel special."
Darien's next game is scheduled for 5:10 p.m. Wednesday at Simsbury.
WILTON/NORWALK 0 0 0--0
DARIEN 4 0 3--7
Records: Wilton/Norwalk 8-7-1, Darien 16-1. Goals: D--Logan Book, Amanda Sload, Lauren Cicero, Ellie Bennett, Christy Conley, Julia Arrix, Allegra Molkenthin. Assists: D--Chandler Kirby 2, Hannah McLane, Schuyler van den Broek, Georgia Cassidy, Molkenthin, Arrix, Bennett, Sammy Nielson. Goalies: W/N--Brooke Jonsson (71); D--Shannon Hall (3 saves), Emily Gianunzio (1). Shots: W/N--4; D--77.