It was a fitting way for a two-time defending champ to go down: with a lot of fight.
That, Darien did accomplish in its 4-1 loss to No. 2 Ridgefield at the Winter Garden in the first round of the DI playoffs on Wednesday.
The Wave stuck right to the Tigers, behind by one most of the game, then tied it on Alex Kostrzewski’s third period power play goal. James Gregory had the assist.
Sean Keegan thwarted the Wave as much as any hot goalie would, making 30 saves, staving off three Wave man-advantages.
But at the other senior Brendan Bumgardner (27 saves) was equally key to keeping Darien’s challenge alive.
Will Forest scored twice, while Jack McGeary had the winner half way through the third period, and Landon Byers the empty net score with Bumgardner pulled in the closing minute of the season.
The backbreakers came on McGary’s power play goal followed by Forest’s second, seconds later, in the third.
Forrest put the Tigers up 1-0 early in the first period as the Tigers roared out of the gate in every way.
The Wave roared themselves in the second, but Keegan shut that gate.
Fifteen seed Darien (8-12-1) ends its first stint in school history as two-time state champs, in a season of many near misses, where the Wave needed to cope with the loss of a staggering 15 to graduation, plus three up-and-coming standouts to private school.
The Tigers (19-2) play No. 7 Fairfield Prep (12-9) in the quarterfinals on Saturday.