Fitzpatrick strikes again, Darien wins 1-0
SHELTON -- The Darien boys hockey team believes it should have handled Trumbull (3-7-0, 4-13-0) more easily last Wednesday night.
Instead, the Blue Wave let the Eagles hang around, and that left them concerned, especially with the post-season just around the corner.
Dillon Fitzpatrick scored a rebound goal 62 seconds into the third period, and back-up goaltender Will Massie recorded 18 saves, as the top-ranked Blue Wave escaped with a 1-0 victory at the Shelton Rinks.
"This score shouldn't be that close for us," Fitzpatrick said. "We're supposedly the best team in the state, but that wasn't the team on the ice today."
The Blue Wave (17-1-1, 11-0-1 FCIAC) played without two first-line senior captains and have not practiced since Feb. 4 due to the weather and ice availability. Tommy Watters missed Wednesday's contest after getting drilled in the knee with a shot in Monday's 2-1 overtime victory over Notre Dame-West Haven. In addition, Mark Koorbusch served a one-game suspension after getting ejected with a five-minute major late in the third period against the Green Knights.
"It's hard to not have them in the lineup," Darien coach Chris Gerwig said. "We're trying different combinations. Kids are on a break from school and coming up here on a Wednesday night. We looked a little flat.
"For us to be just playing games, it shows. We were extremely sloppy right from the start right to the finish, but you can't have your `A' game in every game and every period and every shift. Ugly wins are good wins."
Darien out-shot Trumbull 12-6 in the first period and 10-8 in the second for a two-period advantage of 22-14, but there were no goals.
Gerwig believed Massie was the best player on the ice for the Blue Wave.
"He was the reason we got the win tonight because he made some big saves in key situations,"
Darien could see Trumbull again in the FCIAC quarterfinals, as the Eagles still have a chance to steal the final playoff spot by winning their last two league games.
"I don't know what it is, but sometimes we just don't get up for these games, and that's something that's unacceptable," Fitzpatrick said. "We're going to face these teams in early rounds of states and FCIACs, and we need to come out stronger."
The Blue Wave finally broke the scoreless tie when Fitzpatrick crashed the net to bang in a rebound that was created when Trumbull goalie Grant Vagnone (39 saves) made a kick save on Nicholas Tuzinkiewicz's shot from the right circle. Fitzpatrick also scored both goals against Notre Dame-West Haven.
"When the goalie is playing as well as he is, it's good to get some traffic in front of the net and attack the net," Gerwig said. "I think the boys discussed that before the third period. We got the goal we needed to give us a `W'."
The victory allowed Darien to finished undefeated in FCIAC play this regaulr season. After the goal, the Blue Wave dominated, out-shooting Trumbull 17-4 for the remainder of the third to finish with a 40-18 edge.
Saturday's regular-season finale against Notre Dame-Fairfield will be helpd at Bridgeport's Webster Bank Arena beginning at 1 p.m.
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