New Canaan advances to FCIAC Championship with win over Darien
DARIEN -- The New Canaan girls hockey team maintained its perfect FCIAC record, defeated Darien for the third time this season and now stands one win away from a third straight FCIAC Championship after picking up a 6-1 victory in the FCIAC semifinals on Wednesday night at the Darien Ice Rink.
New Canaan, the top seed in the four-team FCIAC tournament, will take on No. 3 Greenwich, which won a seesaw battle against No. 2 Ridgefield by a 4-3 margin right before New Canaan and Darien took to the ice. The title game will be played at the Terry Connors Ice Rink in Stamford on Saturday at 4 p.m.
After a scoreless first period, New Canaan cracked the scoreboard less than two minutes into the second stanza on a short-range goal by Olivia Hompe.
"We came out pretty strong in the first. It was just a matter of us getting to the net, getting the shots and finishing. I think Darien played a really great first period, but it didn't faze us. Once we started putting them in, they just kept coming," Hompe said. "[The FCIAC Championship] is going to be a really great game and we're really looking forward to it. We're really excited."
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"We were focusing on trying to keep them from scoring, playing good defense, and that takes away any offensive punch that you have," Darien coach Al Gurney said. "We're not balanced enough where we can focus on both ends of the ice. Playing with three players back, we're hoping to keep them off the scoreboard, have them make a mistake, us pick up a puck and score a goal and get a lead."
From that point on, New Canaan thoroughly dominated the second period. Less than 1:30 after Tropsa's tally, Hompe scored her second goal on a top shelf wrister to put her team back in front, as Abbey Buckenheimer picked up an assist.
Less than two minutes later, Buckenheimer rang her shot off the inside of the post and into the back of the net for a 3-1 lead, as Hompe was credited with an assist. Next, Holly Burwick fired a shot from the blue line, which deflected off a Darien defender and into the net for a 4-1 lead. Madzie Carroll and Kyla Persky each collected an assist.
Hompe notched the hat trick at the end of the second period on an unassisted goal, and she also closed out the scoring with the only goal of the third period after taking in a pass from Persky.
"I liked the intensity. Territorially, we were in the game right from the beginning. We've got players that know how to move the puck," New Canaan coach Rich Bulan said. "Britt [Gardella] made the saves when she had to, I thought our defense did a great job clearing the puck and our forwards stuck with the game plan. They dumped and chased and I think after a while you saw the results."