DARIEN -- A quick start propelled the New Canaan High School boys ice hockey team past Greenwich when the rivals met last December, with the Rams registering two first-period goals. Monday, almost a year to the date of last season's pre-holiday meeting, the Rams jumped out to an even faster start against the Cardinals.
Using the same formula for success as it has in the past, New Canaan scored three goals during a four-minute span in the first period and skated to an impressive 4-1 victory over Greenwich in an FCIAC game at Darien Ice Rink.
Junior forward Parker Lewis scored two goals, while senior forward Jack O'Rourke recorded one goal and one assist for the Rams, who fell to Hamden after beginning the season with a win against Notre Dame-West Haven.
"We had a little hiccup against Hamden, but we are starting to mesh well together," said New Canaan senior forward Harry Stanton, who helped pace the squad offensively. "This was a big win to get us back on track."
Sophomore forward Calvin McKinney scored for the Cardinals, who settled down after a shaky opening period.
"We bounced back nicely in the second period," said GHS coach Bob Russel, whose team lost to New Canaan 4-2 last December. "But you can't spot a team like this three goals -- you can't spot any team three goals."
Consistently winning battles for the puck in the Cardinals' zone the Rams got a lot of momentum, and scoring chances, in the first period. Receiving a pass from Stanton, a wide-open O'Rourke snapped a wrist shot from the slot past Greenwich junior goalie Bryan Archino, giving the Rams a 1-0 edge 4:29 into the first period. Set up by senior forward Peter Reinhardt, Lewis went top shelf with his shot from the right faceoff circle, putting New Canaan in front, 2-0, just 40 seconds later.
Lewis struck again with 6:34 remaining in the first period, tallying from close in, putting the Cards in a 3-0 hole.
"The first period we worked hard to get the puck," Lewis said. "The second period we didn't work as hard, but the third period we got back into it. I think we're getting better each game."
Said Rams coach Bo Hickey: "That was a pretty inspired first period. I would like to go against a lot of teams if we played two periods like that."
New Canaan outshot Greenwich 16-6 in the first period, with Archino making 13 saves for the Cardinals.
"Archino did a great job, but we have to help him out more," GHS junior defenseman Kevin Piotrzkowski said. "We were giving up too many shots. The first period we didn't come out to play hard, the third period we didn't play that well, but we beat them in the second period. We have to play a complete game."
Trailing 3-0, the Cardinals had the better of the play during the second period, holding a 10-5 shots-on-goal advantage. Rams goalie MacLean Wright made a save on Kristian Cunningham's shot from the right wing, but McKinney knocked in the rebound, making it a 3-1 with 8:08 to go in the second period.
"We didn't win a battle in our zone in the first period, but the second period we started playing with more confidence," Russel said. "Positioning with our wingers is important and they were drifting a little bit in the first period."
Junior forward Davis Bruch sealed the Rams' win with a top shelf goal with 7:11 left in the final period, giving his squad a commanding 4-1 advantage. New Canaan outshot GHS 11-4 during the third period and 31-20 for the game.
"The third period we came back and skated again," Hickey said. "Greenwich regrouped and took advantage of some things we did in the second period. They always play very hard."
Said Stanton: "Greenwich is good every year, so we know we have to get a step on them and score that first goal. Starting the game with a 3-0 lead gave us some room and a lot of momentum."
Archino made 27 saves for the Cardinals, who know what adjustments they have to make.
"We are smaller than most teams, so we have to come out harder and play the body on them," GHS junior forward Matt Lodato said. "Skate faster and get some pucks to the net are the keys for us. Once we get in the offensive zone, we just need to settle it down."
GREENWICH 0 1 0 -- 1
NEW CANAAN 3 0 1 -- 4
Records: New Canaan 2-1; Greenwich 0-2.
Goals: NC -- Parker Lewis 2, Jack O'Rourke, Davis Bruch; G -- Calvin McKinney. Assists: NC -- Harry Stanton, O'Rourke 2, Bruch, Peter Reinhardt 2; G -- Kristian Cunningham. Goalies: NC -- MacLean Wright (19 saves); G -- Bryan Archino (27 saves).