Darien tops Greenwich, 3-1, in state hockey opener
DARIEN -- For one team, it was the first step toward a state tournament title. For the other, it was a glimpse into what could be a bright future.
The Darien High School boys ice hockey team bounced back from its disappointing loss in the FCIAC finals by succeeding in its CIAC Division I first-round test Wednesday night, posting a 3-1 triumph over Greenwich High at Darien Ice Rink.
The win means No. 4 Darien (20-3-1) will battle No. 12 South Windsor (9-11-2) in Saturday's quarterfinals. South Windsor upset No. 5 seed Ridgefield, 2-1 in overtime Wednesday. There is a possibility that Saturday's quarterfinal could be played at Webster Bank Arena in the afternoon before the Bridgeport Sound Tigers play Saturday night.
As for Greenwich, the Cardinals' season ends at 9-12-1 overall.
"We had a very young team this season. We had very few seniors. We struggled early in the season," remarked veteran Greenwich coach Bob Russel. "We took lumps early. But our group grew over the course of the year and I was pleased with their development. A year older and a year of extra size and strength will put us in a good situation for the future."
Still, Darien used first period goals from senior Connor Davis at 6:32 left and 3:29 left in the first period to build a 2-0 lead.
"Without Owen and Jack, we were playing with all new forward line combinations," Darien coach Chris Gerwig said. "So getting those two goals early were huge."
Without Koorbusch and Pardue, the Blue Wave employed three rather than four forward lines along with its normal three defense pairings.
In a contest that saw Darien whistled for one penalty and Greenwich for none, Darien senior goalie Michael Colon registered 16 saves -- 12 in the second period.
But Greenwich saw very few rebounds.
"We did a good job keeping the Greenwich offense on the perimeter," Gerwig said. "We've won so many 2-1, 3-2, 1-0 games that's become our style. Our kids really stuck to the plan. Michael Colon showed why he's an All-State caliber goalie. He held the fort with big saves. He gave the guys confidence."
"The second period was one of our best periods of the season. But we didn't score," Russel said. "It just shows why you can't go down 2-0 early to a team like Darien. I think they will go far in this Division I state tournament."
Greenwich junior goalie Bryan Archino made 26 saves in all.
Greenwich's Bem Van Duyne scored with 5:07 left to play off a Luke Finneran assist for 2-1.
But Darien's Dillon Fitzpatrick scored an empty netter with 47.6 seconds left to seal the win.
And now, the Blue Wave can take another step forward toward a state tournament title. The availability of Koorbusch and Pardue will be a gametime decision Saturday.
"We have our goal clear in our minds. We have the tools for this state tournament," Davis said. "We can redeem ourselves."
Darien 3, Greenwich 1
GREENWICH 0 0 1 --1
DARIEN 2 0 1 --3
Records: Greenwich 9-12-1; Darien 20-3-1.