Darien beats Fairfield Prep for second straight boys hockey state championship

Darien celebrates its win over Fairfield Prep in Division I boys hockey finals action in New Haven, Conn., on Saturday March 19, 2016.
Darien celebrates its win over Fairfield Prep in Division I boys hockey finals action in New Haven, Conn., on Saturday March 19, 2016.Christian Abraham / Hearst Connecticut Media

NEW HAVEN—New year, new coach, no problems.

For the second straight season Darien captured the Division I state crown after defeating Fairfield Prep 4-2 at Ingalls Rink on the Yale campus in New Haven Saturday.

“I felt like we had the skill and the character to give ourselves a chance to get back here,” first-year coach Mac Budd said. “The one thing Chris Gerwig (who Budd took over for this season) as well as (assistants) Peter Grant and Miek Cioffi, that group of the four of us have instilled is hard work into the kids, skill alone isn’t going to get the job done.”

Darien jumped out to a lead less than two minutes into the contest on a Jake Kirby power play tally. They Blue Wave would add one more in the first as Sam Knowlton cleaned up a wrist-shot off the stick of Ben Brown to give Darien the early advantage.

It was the second period that would define the contest for both teams.

Fairfield Prep’s Justin Blanchette cut Darien’s lead in half three minutes in but the Wave’s Jay Dickson scored back to back goals within two minutes of each other to put Darien firmly ahead.

“It’s awesome,” said Dickson, a senior captain who missed four weeks of the year due to injury. “I’m not a goal scorer, but to put a couple away like that in my last game is incredible.”

Darien’s third line, led by Dickson as well as Brown (three assists) and Max DeBeradinis, was the difference maker in the contest.

“Our three lines are pretty formidable, there’s no doubt about that,” Budd said. “A lot of times you’re thinking about matchups but we don’t have to match up, we just roll them and we don’t care who they match up against and that’s a real luxury to have as a coach and says a lot about the skill level of all those guys.”

The second period also saw both teams turn physical with each other, with a scrum forming after almost every whistle. This resulted in six total penalties in the period, three for each team.

Late in the second Christopher Kral got the deficit back down to two for the Jesuits and as the period expired it looked as if they would add one more into a wide open net, but the quick stick of Kirby—who Budd switched to defense for some shifts because of penalties—caught the puck just before it could cross the goal line.

“The second period was a crazy period,” Budd said. “It would have been tough to come into that locker room after that period and only have a one goal lead, I’d say it shows you how smart a player Jake is. If ever there was a right time, right place moment there it is.

In the third the teams skated even, with Fairfield electing to pull its goalie with 2:31 to go in the game, but a slashing penalty thwarted the 6-on-5 opportunity for Fairfield as time wound out.

“I couldn’t be more proud of these guys,” Prep coach Matt Sather said, “We are going to sorely miss these six seniors, they’ve been great leaders and character men and excellent hockey players…in high school sports you live and die with your seniors, so to only have six of them on this team and get this far, I’m very proud of them.”

aparelli@bcnnew.com @reportedbytheAP

Fairfield Prep 0 2 0—2

Darien 2 2 0—4

Goals: FP—Justin Blanchette, Christopher Kral; D—Jake Kirby, Sam Knowlton, Jay Dickson 2. Assists: FP—Blanchette, Kral; D—Riley Mullin, Ben Brown 3. Goalies: FP—John McGee (21 saves); D—David Voigt (17). Shots: FP—19; D—25.