STAMFORD — In playoff hockey, regardless of the seed, there is one great equalizer.

An elite goalie.

Led by Ryan Wilson and his 43 saves, sixth-seeded St. Joseph upset second-ranked Darien 2-1 Wednesday night in the FCIAC semifinals at Terry Conners Rink in Stamford.

“He was definitely awesome,” Cadets coach JR Bria said of his goalie, who is just a sophomore. “When you play a first period like we did and they get 22 shots, most teams would be down a couple goals, and he kept us in it.”

After dominating the first period and having nothing to show for it, Darien came out and took the lead less than two minutes into the second period when Jake Kirby found Sam Knowlton at the doorstep, where he roofed the puck for the lead.

Three minutes later, St. Joseph tied it after Adam Usinger drove the net with a shot, taking out goalie David Voigt in the process. No call was made by the referees, and Nick DiSabella finished easily into the vacant net.

The goal swung the momentum in the Cadets’ favor for the remainder of the second period, and they followed with two consecutive power-play opportunities, including 14 seconds of a 5-on-3 advantage, but Darien killed off both penalties.

“I give our guys credit for coming out in the second period after a terrible first and they were willing to battle,” Bria said. “We went down a goal and they came back and fought hard, and it’s always good when you have a kid like Ryan Wilson out there.”

In the third period, Darien seemingly was in control again, but a breakaway opportunity by Sean Attanasio resulted in a wrist-shot goal, and Wilson handled the rest.

The Blue Wave outshot the Cadets 44-24, and star winger Kirby created four separate opportunities for himself that he wasn’t able to capitalize on, once hitting the post in the first period and once shooting just wide in the second period after a beautiful move through a defenders legs.

“I can’t be unhappy with my team,” said Darien coach Mac Budd. “I feel bad for them, but as a coach if you feel like they didn’t give their best effort or play like you want them to do, I can understand, but tonight wasn’t like that. They did what the coaching staff wanted them to do. There were large chunks of game where we dominated play.”

Budd lauded Bria for the job he has done with a team that, while it doesn’t lack talent, is short on bodies. Even Budd, who has seen his fair share of good goalie play, was decisive on the difference in the contest.

“Everyone knows watching the game,” Budd said. “The key thing was the play of their goalie. Their goalie played very, very well.”

aparelli@bcnnew.com @reportedbytheAP

ST. JOSEPH 2, DARIEN 1

(6) ST. JOSEPH 0 1 1—2

(2) DARIEN 0 1 0—1

Goals: SJ—Nick DiSabella, Sean Attanasio; D—Sam Knowlton. Assists: SJ—Adam Usinger; D—Jake Kirby. Goalies: SJ—Ryan Wilson (43 saves); D—David Voigt (22). Shots: SJ—24; D—44.