After weekend 'wake-up call,' No. 1 Notre Dame-West Haven responds with win over No. 4 Darien

WEST HAVEN — It's an odd time of year for a 7-4 boys hockey game for two teams with aspirations of playing past St. Patrick's Day.

It's also an odd time of year to be talking about compete level, but there it was Wednesday night after Notre Dame-West Haven defeated Darien at Bennett Rink.

Notre Dame coach Larry Vieira liked the Green Knights' a heck of a lot more than he did after Saturday's loss to Fairfield Prep. They’ve come back with a 3-2 win over Xavierian Brothers in Massachusetts on Monday, then this one Wednesday to improve to 15-2-1.

“After that, we kind of realized we’ve got to work as a team,” Notre Dame senior Tye Battipaglia said. “That’s what we’ve always had to do. We made a quick change, went up to Mass., put it to work, and we had great results.”

On the other side, Darien coach Mac Budd was left a bit puzzled after his team finished its regular season at 12-5-3 with a bit of a clinker.

It wasn’t the type of game you’d expect in the rematch of last year’s CIAC Division I final nor even the 3-2 game they played at Darien in January; Notre Dame won those, too. It sure wasn’t the kind of game that was going to beat a team that has topped the GameTimeCT Top 10 Poll for almost 14 months.

“They’re all going to be like this. That was the message in the locker room,” said Budd, whose team is ranked fourth. “I said it after the New Canaan game (a 4-1 loss a week and a half ago) too, a similar type of game for us. Late in the season, it’s more about your compete level. It’s going to take a lot of effort and determination over the next three or four weeks if you want to win something.

“I’m a little bit disappointed that we had a game like this where I don’t think that compete level was, certainly, where it needs to be in the postseason.”

Darien defenseman Asa Beach's first career goal cut Notre Dame's lead to 5-3 early in the third. But James Mascari's short-handed goal with 6:36 left completed a hat trick -- he has 20 goals on the season -- and restored the two-goal lead. Tim Donahue added another soon after.

The goals came in bunches. Notre Dame, which never trailed, led 3-2 just 8:05 into the game. The Green Knights scored goals 43 seconds apart late in the second to break it open.

“I thought our pace tonight was off the charts,” Vieira said. “I rolled four lines consistently. Our forechecking was something to be seen.”

Fairfield Prep dealt Notre Dame its first in-state loss since Christmas 2021 on Saturday, a 5-1 waxing.

“I thought it was a little wake-up call,” Vieira said. “We won two games since that. We played the same pace on Monday. We were a little sloppier in our defensive zone tonight, but Darien’s a super-high-skilled team.”

The Green Knights finish the regular season with Xavier on Saturday and Northwest Catholic on Monday before a likely rematch with the Jesuits in the SCC/SWC Division I final here on March 3.

Player of the Game

Notre Dame junior James Mascari scored three goals, including the short-handed goal that restored his team’s three-goal lead.

Playing Out?

Starting at left wing for Darien was... a goalie?

Nope. Senior Tommy Branca wore goalie Finley Hegarty's No. 1 sweater for the night. Budd said he wasn’t sure what happened with Branca's usual No. 25 jersey, but it was "not here."


“I’m really, really proud of the way we competed. We battled every puck along the boards.” —Notre Dame-West Haven coach Larry Vieira; @fornabaioctp

Notre Dame-West Haven 7, Darien 4

DARIEN                                           2 0 2—4
Records: Darien 12-5-3; Notre Dame-West Haven 15-2-1. Goals: D—Jack Marisca, Tyler Reckin, Asa Beach, Chris Davis; NDWH—James Mascari 3, Michael Troiano, Daniel Cusack, Lukacs Delmonico, Tim Donohue. Assists: D—Charlie Schwind, Gavin Samame; NDWH—Tegan Grillo 2, Donohue, Troiano. Goalies: D—Quinn Kreppein (21 saves); NDWH—Connor Crowley (17). Shots: D—21; NDWH—28.