Jamie Tropsa knew his Darien High girls hockey team would be a legitimate state championship contender this season. And he figured that New Canaan, winners of three of the last four state titles and six of nine overall, would probably slip a bit after the departure of so many talented seniors.
But never did Tropsa -- or New Canaan coach Rich Bulan, for that matter -- think the disparity between the two rivals would be as huge as it appeared to be Monday night at the Darien Ice Rink.
"We're very, very good," Tropsa said after the Blue Wave's 9-0 victory, the worst loss for New Canaan in 10 years. "This bunch of girls is as competitive as you're going to see. This is no surprise; I saw it coming."
So, how good is the Blue Wave? Monday's victory, powered by a hat trick by Georgia Cassidy, was their ninth in a row, and their seventh consecutive shutout. In the nine games they have outscored their opponents 59-1, including 49-0 during the shutout streak. They are 10-1, with only a 4-2 blemish to East Catholic keeping them from perfection.
"I don't know how East Catholic beat them," said Bulan, the most successful girls hockey coach in state history. "They're the best I've seen."
Darien (10-1, 7-0 Fairfield County Interscholastic Athletic Conference) outshot New Canaan 39-12, including 18-0 in the first period. The Blue Wave, however, managed just a 2-0 lead on power-play goals by Amanda Sload and Cassidy.
"We came out on fire, but we were frustrated," Tropsa said, referring to the fine goaltending by New Canaan's Nathalie Deney. "But this rivalry is crazy. The girls know how many (state championships) New Canaan has and how many we've had (one). They're very conscious of how much they want to beat them."
That certainly showed in the second period when Darien scored six goals on 13 shots. Ellie Bennett and Christy Conley scored two minutes apart, then Cassidy sandwiched a pair of goals around one by Cassidy Schiff that made it 7-0. Allegra Molkenthin wrapped up the second-period scoring and Julia Arrix added a third-period tally.
"It's hard losing to Darien because of the great rivalry, and how spoiled we've become the last 10 years," Bulan said. "But Darien is doing it the right way, the way we did it. So, when you lose to a team that plays that way, it's OK."
"It's a great streak but the girls are almost too aware of it," Tropsa said. "I wish they'd forget about it."
Here's something Bulan would like to forget:
"We only have three seniors," Tropsa said. "Two years from now, we're going to be even better."
Darien 9, new canaan 0
NEW CANAAN 0 0 0--0
DARIEN 2 6 1--9
Records: New Canaan 6-5-1, 5-2-1 FCIAC; Darien 10-1, 7-0. Goals: D--Georgia Cassidy 3, Ellie Bennett, Amanda Sload, Christy Conley, Cassidy Schiff, Allegra Molkenthin, Julia Arrix. Assists: D--Sammy Nielson 2, Lauren Cicero 2, Sage Thacker, Sload, Chandler Kirby, Arrix, Molkenthin, Marissa Baker, Hannah McLane, Schuyler van den Broek, Rebecca Schaffer, Courtney Lowe, Katie Zaro. Goalies: NC--Nathalie Deney (28 saves), Sarah Klearman (2); D--Shannon Hall (5), Emily Gianunzio (7); Shots: NC--12; D--39.