STAMFORD -- Propelled by a balanced offensive attack, the New Canaan girls' hockey team beat Stamford/Westhill/Staples last night 7-0 and secured a spot in the FCIAC tournament.
Sophomore Catherine Granito collected a game-high three points via a pair of goals and an assist, while fellow second-year skater Kate McMahon scored twice. Junior captain Emma Rosenstein picked up two points, as did Amelia Carroll.
"We needed a game like that," said New Canaan head coach Rich Bulan. "You know, a game where everyone can get in and do what they're supposed to and really get a feel for it."
With the victory, the Rams improved to 11-5-1 on the season and 9-2-1 in conference play. Meanwhile, the Black Knights fell to 4-9-2 and lost for the second time in as many games to New Canaan this season. Since losing 9-0 to Darien back on Jan. 20, the Rams have now won five straight.
Rosenstein opened the scoring by converting a slow, rebounding puck into a goal, five minutes after the initial face-off. Junior captain Mackenzie Lewis had fired a slapshot from the blue line that smacked off the pads of Stamford goalie Casey Bang and then conveniently dropped in front Rosenstein at the left circle.
The next two New Canaan scores each struck net within the ensuing three minutes, courtesy of Granito and junior Emily Patch. Granito's speed on the wing posed problems for the Black Knights all evening, as she was only halted from earning a hat trick by multiple, excellent efforts by Stamford goalie Casey Bang. Bang battled continuously against the Rams' flurry of shots from start to finish. Unquestionably, New Canaan dominated puck possession in each frame.
"It's nice to see everyone out there following the game plan," Bulan said. "Dump it, keep it down deep and do the best we can to hem them in."
In the infancy of the second period, Stamford mounted a couple rushes and recorded its first official shot on net. However, the Rams' response was strong and swift, coming exactly 30 seconds later in the form of their fourth goal. Skating into open space at the bottom of the right circle, Carroll struck gold on the top shelf with a well-aimed wristshot.
Granito's second score followed soon thereafter and back-to-back McMahon goals concluded the night's lamp-lighting. Before the period ended, Black Knight freshman Kit Epstein and senior Kelly Guraian broke up a couple scoring chances.
Though, after the final intermission, it was clear Stamford had saved its best defensive performance for last. The Black Knights not only held their visitors scoreless over 15 minutes, but also successfully killed a penalty as the clock wound down.
"The girls really bore down there," said Stamford coach Eli Williams. "They keep getting better every time they step on the ice and that's a credit to them. They're working so hard out there, so I give them a lot of credit."
On the other end, New Canaan's defense allowed just four shots over a contest that greatly pleased coach Bulan.
"Overall, I was very happy. We're on a good streak here. We've won five in a row now, and we've got some games heading into the playoffs where... we know we can finish second in the FCIAC."
The Rams' next game will be on Wednesday, Feb. 12 , at Greenwich. Puck-drop is scheduled for 8:30 p.m.
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