Darien upends Greenwich to win FCIAC hockey title
STAMFORD -- As thrilled as the Darien High School boys hockey team was during its four-goal second period outburst, that's how stunned and frustrated rival Greenwich was in Saturday's FCIAC Tournament final.
The Cardinals had given up four goals in one game just once all season, but the Blue Wave quickly changed that trend with a second period they won't forget.
Tallying four unanswered goals in the pivotal second period, second-seeded Darien registered an impressive 5-3 victory over top-seeded Greenwich in the conference's championship game before a large, enthusiastic crowd at Terry Conners Rink.
Receiving goals from five different players, the Blue Wave (19-2-1) captured their first FCIAC title since the 2007-08 season. Last season, Darien was edged by New Canaan in the championship game.
"Last year was a tough loss to New Canaan, a rival, so to beat them in the semifinals, then beat the No. 1 team in the state like Greenwich -- a great hockey team -- I'm really pleased with how our guys finished the job," said Darien coach Chris Gerwig, whose squad tossed their helmets in the air in celebration at the game's conclusion. "Hats off to our guys. That was our mission."
Senior goalie Will Massie earned game MVP honors, making 19 saves. Massie, who kept it a close game when the Cardinals had the momentum in the first period, was quick to credit the defensemen in front of him for holding off the opposition.
"On defense we have guys who sell out," Massie said. "They block shots and make great plays. It's a great feeling to know that I don't have to do it all by myself back there. Bringing this title back to Darien feels great."
Senior Nicholas Tuzinkiewicz and sophomore Max Romeyn each recorded one goal and one assist for Darien, which dueled Greenwich to a 3-3 draw last month. The Cardinals, who skated into the second period with a 2-1 advantage, received one goal and one assist from senior forward Matt Lodato.
"We played an outstanding first period," GHS coach Bob Russel said. "The first period, we cleared our end quickly, forced turnovers and created chances. The second period, they beat us to pucks and pressured us on our end."
Trailing 2-1, the Blue Wave tied the score when Sam Knowlton sent a wrist shot from the right faceoff circle past GHS senior goalie Bryan Archino, who was screened on the play. Knowlton beat Archino to the glove side 1:25 into the second period.
At the 9:27 mark of the second period, Tuzinkiewicz gave Darien the lead for good, knocking in his own rebound after making a strong rush to the net. Leading 3-2, the Blue Wave killed a Cards power play -- thanks in no small part to a nifty save by Massie -- and then took a two-goal lead on junior Jake Kirby's tap-in with 3:40 left in the second period.
"We came out a little sluggish, then we came into the locker room after the first period and said that we knew we needed to step it up," Kirby said. "We went on a 4-0 run, which I didn't see coming. In the second period, we just kept going and kept getting pucks to the net. They couldn't get it out."
Indeed, the Cardinals made it tough on Archino (19 saves), as the Blue Wave spent a lot of time in Greenwich's zone in the second period.
"The second period, we just came out flat," GHS senior defenseman Kevin Piotrzkowski said. "After the second period, we were at a loss for words. We didn't know what to think. When you go down 5-2 like that, it's tough to come back."
Romeyn's goal off a feed from Herbert Hazelton with 40.4 seconds to go capped the Blue Wave's scoring in the second period and put GHS in a 5-2 hole.
"After that second period, we were pretty happy," Massie said. "But we knew we had to get back down to business in the third period against a really good team."
Gathering a pass from Brian Silard, Lodato went top shelf from the slot, cutting Darien's lead to 5-3 with 6:29 left in the final period. That's as close as the Cards got, as the Blue Wave played strong defensively down the stretch.
Greenwich outshot Darien 12-4 in the first period en route to taking a 2-1 edge. As he did in the semifinals against Ridgefield, junior defenseman Colin Kelly scored the first goal for Greenwich, receiving a pass from senior Ian Fulton, before going top shelf with his shot between the circles at the 11:29 mark. Junior Scott Voigt's goal on a play in which the puck found a Greenwich player's skate, tied the score at 1-1 for Darien with 7:05 remaining in the first period.
The Cardinals won the ensuing faceoff and senior forward Decker Curran tallied off a pass from Lodato just 21 seconds later, making it 2-1. Massie made 10 saves in the opening period.
"We had all kinds of chances in the first period and definitely could have gotten another goal," Russel said. "It could have been at least a three-goal first period for us, which would have changed the game."
Said Gerwig: "Our goalie made some acrobatic saves. When it was 2-1 and 2-2, he made some great saves, helping us to separate ourselves and giving us a chance to win."
DARIEN 5, GREENWICH 3
DARIEN 1 4 0 -- 5
GREENWICH 2 0 1 -- 3
Records: Greenwich 18-2-2; Darien 19-2-1
Goals: D -- Scott Voigt, Sam Knowlton, Nicholas Tuzinkiewicz, Jake Kirby, Max Romeyn; G -- Colin Kelly, Decker Curran, Matt Lodato; Assists: D -- Carter Joyce, Aidan Loh, Romeyn, Tuzinkiewicz, Craig Miller, Herbert Hazelton; G -- Brian Silard, Ian Fulton, Lodato; Goalies: D -- Will Massie (19 saves); G -- Bryan Archino (19 saves).