Darien erases two-goal deficit to earn tie in Ridgefield
RIDGEFIELD -- Regardless of the sport, ties often leave both teams feeling less than satisfied at game's end. To a certain extent, that was indeed the case for the Darien and Ridgefield girls hockey teams, which skated off the ice with a 2-2 tie Wednesday at the Winter Garden Arena in Ridgefield.
On the other hand, the tie was a result of Darien erasing a 2-0 second period deficit, so this one may have felt a bit better the average tie for the Blue Wave.
"We just kept it together, came back and they weren't able to get one on in, so it's good," said Darien goalie Shannon Hall, who made 10 saves. "Playing these tough games makes us better as a team. We don't want to have easy games; we want to have games that challenge us."
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Each team had several opportunities at a potential game-winning goal in the extra frame, but Ridgefield goalie Heather Ogden and Hall were up to the task of keeping their respective teams alive.
Then, with 12 seconds remaining, Ridgefield's Cara Lockwood came as close as anyone to netting the sudden death goal, but Hall denied two consecutive short-range shots before covering the puck.
"As a goalie, you want to react; you don't want to think too much. If you over-think, you can mess up, so I was just reacting," Hall said. "I knew I had to get there and I stopped it."
With 2:23 remaining in overtime, Darien's Ellie Bennett appeared to score the game-winning goal after her shot bounced high off the blocker pad of Ogden and narrowly stayed out of the net. However, a penalty shot was awarded to Bennett after a Ridgefield player covered the puck in the crease. Ogden came up big with a save on the penalty shot.
Prior to the tense eight-minute overtime period, Ridgefield opened the scoring when Anna Marcus sent a long pass to Kerry Sheehan-Delany, springing her on a breakaway. Sheehan-Delany made some nifty moves and got the puck past Hall for a 1-0 lead just over five minutes into the game.
On the powerplay early in the second period, Ridgefield's Megan Galloway sent a quick pass to Lockwood, who blasted a one-time slap shot from the top of the faceoff circle for a 2-0 lead.
Less than three minutes later, Darien cut its deficit in half on a goal by Bennett. Controlling the puck behind the Ridgefield net, Sara Shaker got the puck in front to Bennett. With her back to the net, Bennett backhanded a no-look shot past Ogden to get the Blue Wave on the board.
"After we made a few adjustments, we carried the momentum. I think the scales were tipped to our side after we made those adjustments," Darien coach Al Gurney said. "We played well, we stepped up and they're a good hockey team. We wanted to gain some momentum from this game, carry into Saturday and carry it into [the FCIAC playoffs] next week."
With 2:52 remaining in the middle stanza, Darien pulled even on a stuff-in goal by Shaker.
"We had our lapses in the second period, but in the third period we definitely improved. Obviously, any overtime is going to be intense," Ridgefield's Missy Hutchings said. "We played Fairfield, then Wilton and then Darien, so it's kind of been a step up every time and I think it's preparing us for the playoffs. I think if we can get some more shots, we can capitalize on more of them."
Hutchings was alluding to the shot totals for each team in which Darien held a 25-12 advantage.
The tie left both teams with matching 9-3-1 FCIAC records, but due to Ridgefield's 4-1 win over Darien on Jan. 12, the Tigers would hold the tiebreaker over the Blue Wave if the two teams finish the regular season with the same record. Both teams are already in the FCIAC playoffs, but the No. 4 seed (Darien, Ridgefield or 10-4 Greenwich) will have to open against New Canaan, which is unbeaten in FCIAC play.
Darien closes out its regular season at the Darien Ice Rink against New Canaan on Saturday at 8:40 p.m.