Talented, well-coached, and very disciplined, the Darien and North Haven girl's hockey teams were evenly matched when they squared off on Tuesday night at the Darien Ice Rink.

About the only difference was that the Blue Wave had Sara Shaker and Ellie Bennett, and the Indians did not. Both players recorded hat tricks in Darien's vastly entertaining 9-7 victory.

"That was a really fun game to play. I don't think we've ever had a high-scoring game like that. We gave it our all and won it in the third period," Shaker said.

Shaker got her big night started for Darien at 11:02 of the opening period. Camped out in front of the net, the junior forward redirected a pass from Ellie Bennett past North Haven goalie Alyssa Altschuler, giving the Blue Wave a 2-0 lead.

"The last couple of games, she's really, really, gone to another level," coach Al Gurney said. "Sara is giving the defense trouble and making things happen."

Shaker made things happen again in the second period. With her team up 2-1, Shaker outhustled North Haven to the puck to prevent an icing. She then made a nifty move and beat Altschuler through the five-hole, giving Darien a 3-1 advantage.

After North Haven cut Darien's lead to 3-2, Lauren Perkins gave the Blue Wave some breathing room. Breaking down the left-side, the senior defenseman beat Altschuler down low at the 4:36 mark. Darien now lead 4-2.

However, a tough and resilient North Haven team clawed their way back to tie the game. Jordan Ruocco beat Darien goalie Shannon Hall on a breakaway to make it 4-3. Then with 54.8 seconds to go in the period, Bailey McGinnins flipped one past Hall to tie the game at 4-4.

The game turned into a shootout in the 3rd period, ignited by Shaker's third goal of the game. Just 17 seconds into the period, Shaker broke down the left side, and beat Altschuler with a nice move, giving her a hat trick and Darien a 5-4 lead.

"It's a really good feeling," Shaker said. "We had a talk in the locker room about needing to step up and play better with more energy. And I just took that energy and made that shot."

But North Haven would not go away. The tireless Indians responded with two quick goals to take a 6-5 lead with 8:26 to go in the game. That lead didn't last long, however. Thirteen seconds later, Ellie Bullitt weaved her wave into the North Haven zone, then uncorked a wicked wrist shot that clanged off the left post and went in, tying the game at 6-6.

Then it was time for the Ellie Bennett show. With 6:30 to go in the game, the freshman forward stuffed home a rebound to give Darien a 7-6 advantage. With 3:51 left in the contest, Bennett rifled one past Altschuler, giving the Blue Wave a much-needed insurance goal. For good measure, Bennett finished off the natural hat trick by poking home a rebound with 2:08 to go, padding Darien's lead to 9-6. They held on to win 9-7.

"I'm really proud of Ellie for getting a hat trick also, she played a really good game," Shaker said of Bennett, who was unavailable after the contest.

"That was great," Gurney said. "Ellie works hard. We moved her up to that line and it's been positive for her. She has stepped up and has been playing real well."

Darien returns to action on Saturday when they take on Trumbull in an FCIAC matchup at 7:30 at the Shelton Ice Center.

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