Darien clinches FCIAC's top-seed with 5-2 win over Fairfield
Updated 2:56 pm, Thursday, February 23, 2012
Playing with first place in the FCIAC tournament on the line, the Darien High School boys ice hockey team did what it had to do.
The Blue Wave scored three second period goals, including one of Brenden Hathaway's two as Darien beat Fairfield co-op 5-2 on Wednesday afternoon at Darien Ice Rink.
"This is a very big win for this team," Darien coach Chris Gerwig said. "I'm very, very proud of them."
Despite finishing with an identical 11-1 conference record as Ridgefield, Darien earned the conference tournament's top seed by virtue of its 4-2 win on Feb. 11 over the Tigers. The Blue Wave will have a bye and play either New Canaan or Wilton in the FCIAC semis on Wednesday in Stamford.
"It's nice to be No. 1," Hathaway said. "My hat's off to coach [Gerwig] he did a really good job this year."
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"It's a nice accomplishment," Gerwig said.
Thomas Kryspin and Tyler DeMilt each scored for Fairfield as the Mustangs missed out on the FCIAC tournament by just two points. Fairfield will be the top-seed in the upcoming Tier II tournament, which begins Friday evening at Darien Ice Rink.
"We had our fair share of opportunities," Fairfield coach Mark Pettorini said. "Against a team like Darien, we've got to score more than two."
Darien raced ahead when junior Dana Wensberg put the Blue Wave ahead midway through the first, then Hathaway's sparkler while the teams played 4-on-4 put Darien up 2-0. The junior picked up the puck at the Fairfield blue line, deked through two defenders, then roofed a backhand shot by Fairfield goalie Conner Frawley.
"The puck popped out to me," Hathaway said. "I just worked some magic and put it in the net. I'm always trying to get to the net and score."
But after Darien was whistled for interference, the Fairfield power play cut the Blue Wave's lead in half. Kryspin stopped Dan Silvestri's point shot short of the cage, spun and beat Darien goalie Hunt Bartram, making the game 2-1 with less than five minutes in the period.
But just 59 seconds later, Knowlton found Gregory with a centering pass that the senior buried, putting Darien back ahead by two. Just 1:45 after that, Knowlton found the rebound off Nick Bruno's shot and peppered the puck into the vacant cage, putting Darien up 4-1.
"They're so talented," Pettorini said. "If you give them chances inside the blue line, they're going to make you pay."
All three second period goals came off Fairfield turnovers, which made Gerwig happy.
"We really thought our transition game was excellent tonight," he said. "We had great puck movement and were very pleased with that effort."