Without a clear cut preseason (or midseason) favorite in boys hockey in 2012, the FCIAC and State tournament crowns may end up with the team that gets hot at the right time. And over the past few weeks, no team is hotter than the Blue Wave, winners of eight straight.

Wednesday night was more of the same. Darien got two goals from Brenden Hathaway and one from Hank Glick. Hathaway assisted on Glick's goal, and Trent Bergin assisted on each of Hathaway's tallies en route to a 3-2 win over St. Joseph (9-5) at the Shelton Rinks.

"It all starts in practice, where we've been trying to keep the intensity and the tempo going at a high level. We feel that some of our strengths are our speed and our skill, and I think it's just carried over [into games]," Darien coach Chris Gerwig said. "We didn't play our best hockey tonight, but we also found a way to win."

Not to be overlooked, junior goalie Max Rothston turned in another solid performance between the pipes, making several tough saves late in the game to preserve Darien's one-goal lead in a scoreless third period.

"We got a shutout against Notre Dame-Fairfield [3-0 on Jan. 5] and we've kind of just built on that," Rothston said. "Since I've been here, we've never put wins up like this."

Over its last eight games, Darien has outscored its opponents 36-8 and has defeated the likes of Notre Dame-Fairfield (3-0 and 4-2), Wilton (4-1) and Greenwich (4-1).

Ironically, Darien's signature win of the season may be its lone victory which has not occurred in its current winning streak: a lopsided 6-1 win over rival New Canaan on Dec. 19 which boosted the Blue Wave's record to 1-2.

Despite its recent run of dominance, Darien knows that it can't get complacent, especially with the playoffs rapidly approaching. After a close call at 3-10 Trinity Catholic on Jan. 14, Darien's fourth win in its current eight-game winning streak, team captain Nick Bruno doesn't seem to believe that taking a team lightly is a mistake that the Blue Wave will make twice.

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"We came out and thought [it would be easy] against Trinity Catholic, and we only got them 1-0," Bruno said. "After that game, we knew that we can't be cocky because in this league anyone can beat anyone. It just goes to show that it's whoever brings it that day."

Darien punched its ticket to the Division I State tournament with a 9-2 win over Norwalk/McMahon on Jan. 28, its sixth victory in its current streak.

The Blue Wave had a solid season in 2011, finishing with a regular season record of 10-9-1, but the team struggled with consistency for the better part of the campaign. For Darien, which has already scored more goals in 12 games in 2012 than it did for all of 2011, the biggest reason for the improvement has been an exceptionally good use of practice time.

"We go hard every single practice. The coaches have a great practice plan for us every single time we're out there," Bruno said. "We go out there and we have fun with it; that's what it's all about. We're winning and we're having fun."

Darien, which now sports a record of 9-3, also knows that a better record means a better playoff seed.

"We made the State Tournament nice and early and we're looking to get up higher in the rankings. We'd like to have that higher seed, play a lesser team and make a run in States," Rothston said. "We're scoring more goals, we're staying out of the penalty box and from a goaltending standpoint, we're keeping them out which is great."

Darien's work, however, is far from over, as marquee matchups with Trumbull, Ridgefield and New Canaan remain.

"The nice thing is that no matter who we put with each other, we feel that there's chemistry there," Gerwig said. "We're pleased with the way things are going so far. We're getting production from everybody, which has been great."