Darien beats Trinity to reach FCIAC hockey final
STAMFORD-- Get ready for a rivalry renewed.
With its 3-1 win over Trinity Catholic Wednesday night top-seeded Darien moved onto the FCIAC boys hockey final, where it will meet archrival New Canaan at Terry Conners Ice Rink on Saturday at 3 p.m. Tommy Watters and Dillon Fitzpatrick scored for the Blue Wave (19-2-1) in the game-clinching second period, as the Crusaders could only muster a goal in the game's final moments.
"It's kind of like the middleweight fighter or journeyman going up against the heavyweight champ," Trinity Catholic coach Ken Smith said. "We had to play a smart game, and they just made some skill plays."
Watters' goal with 4:09 left in the middle frame proved not only to be the game's difference-maker, but also its undisputed highlight.
After picking up the puck just above the blue line, the Darien captain flew down the right wing before facing a sudden one-on-one opportunity. Upon crossing the bottom-half of the circle, Watters dangled the puck right before whipping it back left to shake his defenseman. Now all alone in the low slot, the senior center flipped the puck up and over Crusader goalie Kyle Odierno for a 2-0 Darien lead.
"Well, (Jack) Massie had a good pass coming out of the zone," Watters said. "I caught it and I had been shooting the puck a lot, so I thought I'd make a little move and it just so happened that it worked."
At the other end of the ice, Blue Wave goaltender Mike Colon came within 33 seconds of posting his eighth shutout of the year, saving 17 of the 18 Trinity Catholic shots. Outside of a few odd rushes in the opening period, the Crusaders struggled to produce quality chances in their offensive zone.
"I think we wore them down," said Darien coach Chris Gerwig. "With our depth, we just kept coming in waves. And knowing that they're numbers are low, we just had to get it deep, go hard and finish our checks."
Trinity Catholic played the Blue Wave to a scoreless draw in the first frame, largely thanks to a disruptive defensive strategy. However, their success did not last long after the first intermission when Fitzpatrick struck gold with help from Watters and Sam Knowlton.
"We tried to clog the middle up and went with a certain forecheck in the first period, which worked pretty well ," Smith said. "But they made some adjustments and when we were in the midst of making our own adjustments, they took advantage of us."
Nick Tunzinkiewicz recorded the final goal for Darien less than four minutes into the third period. Matt Carlson poked one through for the Crusaders to avoid a shutout.
Darien and New Canaan will meet in the FCIAC final for the first time since 2008, when a post-game fight resulted in multiple arrests and permanently ended all night post-season games between the schools. The Blue Wave won the championship that year, 2-1.
Darien 3, Trinity Catholic 0
TRINITY CATHOLIC 0 0 1--0
DARIEN 0 2 1--3
Records: Trinity Catholic 15-6-1, Darien 19-2-1
Goals: TC--Matt Carlson; D--Dillon Fitzpatrick, Tommy Watters, Nick Tuzinkiewicz; Assists: TC--Griffin Northup; D-- Tommy Watters, Sam Knowlton, Jack Pardue, Jack Massie Goalies: TC--Kyle Odierno (36 saves); D--Mike Colon (17) Shots: TC--18 D--39