Don’t call them a scoring machine. Even if most opponents would now recognize the Darien boys’ hockey team as just such a contraption.
Contraption, because it is unusual — a goal scoring mechanism Darien’s rarely if ever seen — sinking 47 goals in 11 games.
But, call it a machine, contraption or goal scoring mechanism of any kind?
“I wouldn’t,” said its inventor, second-year coach Chris Gerwig. “I feel I’m deep in all areas, and that’s a great problem to have.”
He’s just as impressed with the team’s 15 goals against.
They worked hard so that we could have a good start to the season. And look what it’s done in the second year.
— Chris Gerwig
“Very pleased with our team defense right now,” he added.
And the defense will only improve when blue chip blue liner senior Dana Wensberg returns from (upper body) injury well before the playoffs.
Returning defensemen Nick Allam, Jack Massie, Kevin Love and Nick Tuzinkiewicz are getting the job done nicely.
“It’s been great, I like the way we are playing good team defense in front of our goaltender,” Gerwig added, with Darien keeping it to one goal against in each of its last three matches, most recently in a 5-1 win at Greenwich on Monday night.
“Without any disrespect, we are playing some competition where we think we can get some confidence,” said Gerwig. “And put some pucks in the net.”
Greenwich’s program is still never a pushover.
“Beating a Division I team in Greenwich was a very nice win, because we all know that’s a rival game. And they’re always very well coached.”
Darien killed off five penalties and had Tommy Watters score shorthanded.
Wave Puck scored two in the first period, one in the second, two in the third, leading 2-1 after one period.
Watters had two goals, lead scorer Brendan Hathaway, Jack Pardue and Jack Knowlton scored one goal each.
Hathaway led with three points, Trent Bergin had two helpers, Knowlton and Massie each had an assist.
In goal, Darien had 15 saves from Michael Collins.
“Mike Collins has been playing some very, very solid goaltending for us,” Gerwig said.
Decker Curran had the Cardinals lone goal and teammate Bryan Archino made 18 stops.
Darien is 5-0 at the top of the FCIAC and 9-1-1 overall, ranked top three, or four, in the state depending upon who you read.
Greenwich drops to 3-1, 6-4.
All three zones
“It’s not just on one side of the ice putting pucks in the net,” Gerwig said. “We are playing all three zones of the ice right now, that’s what’s leading to our success so far.”
Darien begins the playoffs early, looking to keep first place and take the FCIAC regular season title needing to play Ridgefield away and New Canaan at home in the last two. That’s after a rare visit from top-in-the-state Fairfield Prep 6 p.m. Feb. 13.
And that is all of course still before the whole thing gets pumped up another 10 notches in a post season where Darien begins with trying to unseat defending county champ Ridgefield, then go for its first state trophy in the modern era, last winning in what would be the unrecognizable-to-these-kids, and maybe some parents, 1969; Crystal Ice Palace, anyone?
“The thing is you want at this point to try to stay healthy,” said Gerwig with nine games to go in the regular season. “And to continue to play good hockey leading up into the month of Feb., because that’s where you will want to be trying to peak. Right now we’re just focused on one shift, one period and one game. It seems to be working.”
Hathaway has the stick working, leading DHS with 13 goals, 23 points in 11 games. Knowlton has nine goals, 19 points, Bergin five goals, 16 points, Watters nine and 14 points.
“It’s good to have the heavyweights, but we are also getting some production from kids like (junior) Owen Koorbusch,” Gerwig said. “We’ve got some of the younger new kids, Jack Pardue (sophomore), Dillon Fitzpatrick (junior) scored his first varsity goal; Craig Miller, a sophmore, has been scoring varsity goals; Robbie Juterbock’s (junior) been playing well; Connor Davis (junior) — we are getting some nice balanced play from everybody, and that’s big.”
Having bigger-performance, stronger frames all around has made a significant difference this season.
“They train with Ben Prentiss (Bodytuning) who has maybe 40 guys (or more), that he trains in the NHL, and college and junior guys,” said Gerwig. “And my guys bought into it. I said, ‘this is what I want to do.’ And they worked hard so that we could have a good start to the season. And look what it’s done in the second year.”