Darien beats Greenwich 1-0 for Division I hockey championship
NEW HAVEN -- After beating Greenwich 1-0 to claim the Division I state title Saturday afternoon at Ingalls Rink, Darien coach Chris Gerwig summed up his season in two words: "Mission accomplished."
"I think that's the best way to put it," said Gerwig, who lead second-seeded Darien its first state hockey title since 1969. "These guys had the opportunity last year against a prestigious program like (Fairfield) Prep and we weren't able to finish. But we got a taste of it and were so close and I think that really helped us today."
A season ago Gerwig and the Blue Wave suffered to heartbreaking losses -- to New Canaan in the FCIAC finals and Prep in overtime of the Division I title game. This year they made good on both, defeating top-seeded Greenwich on both occasions.
"I thought we played really well today," Greenwich coach Bob Russel said. "All you can do is play well enough to create opportunities to score; we had lots of chances where the puck might have gone in the net in a normal situation, when it comes down to one goal like that things could go either way."
The lone goal of the game came off the stick of senior captain Jack Pardue. Darien's superstar winger gathered the puck in the low slot with a one-on-one look at Greenwich goalie Bryan Archino and fired a wrister that hit the crossbar and ricocheted down and in. It was the lone blemish for Archino who had 15 saves on the day.
In the opposite net was Will Massie, who has earned the nickname `Stonewall Massie' from the Darien students thanks to his recent success. Massie got the shutout Saturday with 22 saves, including three in the last 10 seconds of the second period. Over the course of the FCIAC and Division I tournaments, Massie allowed just six goals in six games including two shutouts. Three of the goals came in Darien's 5-3 win over Greenwich in the FCIAC final.
"He kept getting better and better at the right time," Gerwig said of Massie. "And look at what he did in the biggest opportunity, to give his team a state championship -- he got an A+ on this day."
Before the game Massie and Gerwig both stressed the importance of "protecting the house" against the high-scoring Cardinals. In other words they wanted to limit rebound opportunities and keep Greenwich from getting open looks at Massie. They succeeded at the task all day, and perhaps the most influential example was in the second period when it looked like Greenwich would get a good shot from the high slot but Riley Mullin dove to take the drive directly in his midsection.
"It's a good feeling," Massie said of the constant help he gets from his teammates. "There's a lot of heart in that locker room and to have guys block shots for you when they're wearing so much less equipment means a lot."
"I think at this point in the season those kinds of things can get exposed," Gerwig said of not having a deep team. "To have depth at every position really paid off for us today and it made a big difference in finishing off this game."
Greenwich outshot Darien 23-16, including 6-1 in the final period but just couldn't convert on its opportunities near the net.
"Darien is a terrific team, they more you watch a team like that the more you appreciate them," Russel said. "They do a lot of do things well. We had our chances, we just didn't put one in when we had the chances."
Despite the loss, the Cardinals have a lot to be proud of this year, garnering the No. 1 ranking in the state for the duration of the season, and defeated Fairfield Prep, who won the previous two state titles, in the quarterfinals 5-2.
"I'm really proud of the team," Russel said. "Our team got the No. 1 ranking because they worked hard all year. We got here because we got a lot of timely goals. I am really proud of this team, they to feel bad right now hopefully they will remember this whole state tournament as a positive experience."
Darien 1, Greenwich 0
DARIEN 0 1 0--1
GREENWICH 0 0 0 --0
Records: Darien 21-2-1; Greenwich 20-2-2.
Goals: D--Jack Pardue. Goalies: D--Will Massie (22 saves); G--Bryan Archino (15). Shots: D--16; G--23.