Darien blanks Ridgefield in FCIAC girls hockey quarters

Darien scored early and often and rolled to a 9-0 shutout of the Ridgefield/Danbury co-op in the FCIAC girls ice hockey quarterfinals Monday at the Darien Ice House.

Senior co-captain Kate Bellissimo had a hat trick and also dished out an assist to lead the offensive explosion, which saw the Blue Wave score two goals in the opening two minutes and five in the first period.

Darien (8-2-1), the No. 1 seed in the tournament, will face No. 4 Greenwich in the FCIAC semifinals at 4:45 p.m., Thursday, at the Darien Ice House. Greenwich blanked No. 5 Wilton/Norwalk 8-0 in its quarterfinal game on Monday.

The Blue Wave had a streak of three games without a win last week, losing by a single goal twice to New Canaan, 4-3 in overtime and 1-0, and tying Greenwich 1-1. They topped Wilton 9-0 on Saturday before heading into the playoffs.

Darien wasted no time jumping out in front of Ridgefield as Kate Bellissimo scored the first goal with an assist from senior co-captain Nelle Kniffin just 31 seconds after the opening drop.

At 1:50, freshman Maggie Bellissimo made it 2-0 with assists from sophomore Gretchen Edwards and junior Ceci Stein.

Darien's Nelle Kniffin (20) plays the puck as New Canaan's Lexie Tully (23) defends during a girls ice hockey game at the Darien Ice House on Saturday, March 6, 2021.

Darien's Nelle Kniffin (20) plays the puck as New Canaan's Lexie Tully (23) defends during a girls ice hockey game at the Darien Ice House on Saturday, March 6, 2021.

Dave Stewart / Hearst Connecticut Media

Kniffin and the two Bellissimo sisters each added one more goal in the first period for a 5-0 lead.

Kniffin, Maggie Bellissimo and Edwards each had three points - Kniffin and Edwards on a goal and two assists apiece, and Bellissimo on two goals and one assist.

Senior co-captain Kelly Raymond had one goal and one assist, junior Evelyn Hidy scored once, and Stein, sophomore Kelsey Brown and freshman Kate Brown had assists.

Darien is trying to advance to the FCIAC championship game for the second straight season. The Wave defeated New Canaan in last year’s final, 3-1, to capture their first conference crown in four years.

david.stewart@hearstmediact.com; @dstewartsports