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Updated 9:59pm — It’s likely cold comfort when coming this close, but after not making the FCIAC playoffs last season, Darien, so far continues to show it is also more than likely back as a league contender.

And it showed in the fashion in which Darien got hot with a pair of late goals, but just could not break the ice on the comeback, losing 4-3 to the Cardinals at the Greenwich Skating Club in the first of the host's new Outdoor Winter Classics inaugurated by the match on Saturday.

Our best line tonight was our third line, they kept it simple and played north-south.

— Mac Budd

The Wave goes to 1-3 overall on the season with the non-league loss, beginning its FCIAC slate in the new year.

Greenwich improves to 3-0.

"It was a great night for hockey, many thanks to Greenwich for hosting such a great night," said Darien coach Mac Budd.

James Gregory and Hunter Hazelton had the clutch comeback stab goals in the late going of the third to make Greenwich sweat in the deep freeze of the evening.

Hazelton scored from the blue line, fed by Connor McCarthy with 55 seconds left for 4-3.

Gregory started it off scoring on a wrist shot from the right point with the Wave skating 5-on-3 to cut the Greenwich lead to 3-2 late in the third period.

Bennett McDermott had the assist.

But with 3:30 to go in the third, Greenwich came right back and scored on a 2-on-1 break for a 4-2 lead with teams skating 4-on-4.

Teams had skated scoreless through half of the game until McCarthy gave the Wave a 1-0 lead firing in deep and steaming down the slot on a 2-on-1 from half the length of the ice.

Skating 3-on-4 the Wave set up the score right from the face-off win in its own end, finishing with the rush and dish to set up McCarthy.

Three minutes later Greenwich tied it up though, getting two skaters free in front and cashing in for 1-1.

The Cardinals took a 2-1 lead on a shorthanded crusher, capturing an errant pass in deep and putting it away with 2:30 left in the second period.

"I thought that we played an OK game," Budd said. "We need to be more disciplined and cut down on penalties. Game was a hard fought battle but we need to be more consistent shift to shift. Our best line tonight was our third line, they kept it simple and played north-south. The next week is very important. The season goes by fast and at the end of the day we need some wins."

Henri Pfeifle made 20 saves in goal for the Wave, while Darien had 19 shots on goal.

Darien’s back in action in the new year hosting Notre Dame-WH 6pm Jan. 3.

Watch it all on-demand as shown live at HAN.Network