Darien hockey loses at Hamden
Published 11:26 pm, Wednesday, December 14, 2011
HAMDEN -- Both teams eagerly awaited Wednesday night's hockey season opener in Hamden. While both teams battled fiercely in an evenly-matched contest, the end result was not what Darien had hoped for.
The Blue Wave lost 2-0 to the Dragons, a final scored that included an empty-netter by Hamden with just seven seconds remaining in the game.
While Darien outshot the Dragons in an evenly matched game, they just couldn't get the puck past Hamden's senior goalie Andy Varga who was spectacular in net, turning away 29 Blue Wave shots.
"(Varga) was their best player and the big difference in the game," said Darien head coach Chris Gerwig who begins his first season with the team. "We just couldn't solve him tonight."
At times, Darien played four lines -- instead of the more typical three lines -- with hopes of wearing down Hamden, but to no avail.
"We didn't lose any gas out there in the third period," Gerwig said. "We kept coming, and I am very proud of them for that.
"To have that much depth in Division I," he added, "That is what you need to win championships."
Despite playing without injured defenseman Kevin Love, Darien players and coaches accentuated the positives in going toe-to-toe against Hamden, winners of the last three state championships.
"We came out strong in the second period and controlled the puck the entire time," said Darien's senior co-captain and all-state goaltender Max Rothston, who turned away 26 shots and was solid between the pipes for the Wave. "We had a lot of chances, we just couldn't put the puck in the net."
The game ebbed and flowed in the first period with neither team gaining the upper hand. Darien outshot Hamden 12-7 and went scoreless on the period's only power play. The Dragons' first goal came with just 38 second left in the period when Hamden freshman winger Tyler Carangelo wristed an add-angled shot past a screened Rothston that found the top corner of the net.
From that point on, both teams hammered away at each other with Hamden sitting on a tenuous one-goal lead. Both sides were 0-3 on their respective power plays.
Darien's best scoring chance came midway through the second period when senior co-captain Nick Bruno, in a flurry of Blue Wave shots, rung a wrist shot off the post.
In the final minute of play, Darien pulled Rothston, and as the final seconds ticked away, Hamden junior Bill Reilly gained control of the puck at center ice and took a slap shot into the empty net to put the game to rest.
"This game was a good measuring stick to see where we are and what we need to work on," Gerwig said. "So, we'll go back to the drawing board and work on some things; try to get some offensive pressure and put some pucks in the net."