Ram Girls skate past rival Darien
Published 10:50 am, Wednesday, December 22, 2010
DARIEN -- Down 2-0 to Darien less than three minutes into the game, New Canaan High School's girls' hockey team members might not have been happy but they certainly weren't uncomfortable. The Rams had overcome an early deficit to Darien to beat their rivals in a preseason jamboree. They did it again, reeling off seven straight goals in a 7-2 win at Darien Ice Rink on Monday night. New Canaan improved to 4-0 and Darien fell to 2-2.
"There wasn't much panic on the bench. You could just tell that we were going to come back," New Canaan captain Jana Persky, who scored three goals in the triumph, said after the game.
Olivia Hompe had New Canaan's other four goals to lead the way in what started as a nail-biter and turned into a romp by the end of the second period. Sarah Shaker scored twice for the Blue Wave for the 2-0 lead. Perksy scored the next two, both on the power play and both set up by Hompe, to deadlock the score after one period of play. The Rams scored four times in the second stanza to build a 6-2 cushion. Hompe scored three of those middle-period tallies as the Rams seized control.
Although Persky said there wasn't much concern after her team fell behind, New Canaan Coach Rich Bulan continues to be surprised by the ability of his players to not be rattled.
"I'm amazed that there's never any panic -- never any deer in the headlight look," Bulan said. "I thought they did a great job in the first 10 minutes. They were all over us and we still managed to tie it."
Bulan said the team's game plan was to apply a heavy forecheck to try to create turnovers, and it worked. The Blue Wave struggled to get the puck out of its own zone thanks to that forecheck. The Rams also cashed in on DHS penalties, scoring three power play goals. The specialty teams play was strong all around, as the Rams also netted a shorthanded tally.
Bulan says the off-ice friendships the Ram players have is part of what makes the team so successful. He said the players all get along well and carry their togetherness onto the ice and into game play. The line of Persky, Hompe and Bea Eppler, did all of the offensive damage in the win over Darien, with Eppler assisting on a pair of goals.
"Her hands and her vision," Bulan said make Hompe such a dangerous player. "And Perksy's just so smart -- and it doesn't hurt that they're both so talented too." Bulan points out that Eppler may not get the same number of points as her linemates but that she is crucial in their scoring success, as she goes hard to the net to create traffic in front of opposing goaltenders, and finds ways to set up her linemates. "The invisible friend on that line is Bea Eppler. She gets the puck in the corner, and goes to the net and takes a pounding," the coach said.
Darien and New Canaan have battled in generally close games throughout the years. The Rams defeated the Wave in last year's FCIAC and state championships, one year after the Wave had beaten them in both tourneys.
"It's great. Anytime you can win a game that's great. Anytime you can beat Darien that's better," Persky said.
"I love playing them. It absolutely tells you where you are and what you have to do," Darien Coach Al Gurney said. "I'd play them ten times a year if I could because it's going to make you a better team down the road."
Both teams hope to again have playoff success down the road in 2010-11, and the Rams anticipated a tough test from non-conference foe Simsbury on Thursday, and expect Darien and Greenwich, another FCIAC foe they defeated this year, along with Wilton, to pose threats in rematches. "We know we've got some games that are going to test us," Bulan said.