It's a difficult situation whenever a team's playoff fate is out of its own hands and it must rely on some outside help to earn a spot in the postseason.

That was exactly the situation that the New Canaan boys hockey team (8-4 FCIAC) had to sit through for the past two days. Ever since the Rams scored a 7-1 victory over Wilton to keep their playoff hopes alive in their regular season finale on Monday, they could only wait. Wait and see if the cards would fall their way in securing a spot in the FCIAC Tournament.

Going into Wednesday's action, New Canaan needed one of two things to happen in order to ensure that it would have a shot at defending its FCIAC Championship: Either Darien needed to defeat or tie Fairfield Warde/Ludlowe co-op in the afternoon or Westhill had to defeat or tie Trinity at night.

At approximately 4 p.m. on Wednesday afternoon, Darien ended the drama by dealing Fairfield a 5-3 loss, thus punching New Canaan's playoff ticket. While it's certainly a bit odd that New Canaan's own crosstown rival assisted in its playoff bid, the Rams have a spot locked up nonetheless. And, as they say, seeds go out the window in an FCIAC playoff tournament. New Canaan, which looked so good against Wilton, is certainly capable of going on a run at the most critical juncture of the season.

In sports, it is fairly commonplace for to say that "they backed their way into the playoffs," but the New Canaan boys hockey team is well-deserving of a trip to the FCIAC Tier I tournament. It's not easy when a team has to deal with the loss of a great number of players, and New Canaan lost 17 from last season's nearly unbeaten squad.

But there were no excuses made, and the Rams shook off a 2-3 start to the season and finished by winning four of their last five games.

New Canaan is the tournament's No. 4 seed and will kick things off by taking on No. 5 Wilton, the same team which New Canaan thoroughly dominated to keep itself alive for the playoffs on Monday. It's certainly a winnable game, and if the Rams are successful, they will take on the Blue Wave with a trip to the FCIAC Championship game on the line. Both the Rams and the Blue Wave have a lopsided victory over their crosstown rival to their credit, as Darien ran away with a 6-1 win on Dec. 19 and New Canaan responded with a 4-0 win on Feb. 14.

Despite lacking the consistent dominance of last year's FCIAC Championship team which only suffered one defeat all season, it would be quite difficult to argue that the Rams do not belong in the Tier I FCIAC tournament as one of the conference's top-six teams.

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