DARIEN — With the league and state playoffs within sight, the sense of urgency has grown among FCIAC boys ice hockey teams.

The importance of acquiring wins was on full display Saturday night as New Canaan and St. Joseph High Schools battled to a 2-2 overtime tie at Darien Ice House.

“This time of year you are seeing desperate teams,” New Canaan coach Patrick Gore said. “St. Joseph wants to get into the FCIAC and the state playoffs. Work ethic on both sides has to go up. Everybody has to work so hard to win games.”

New Canaan’s offense worked hard on Senior Day. But St. Joseph goalie Ryan Wilson worked harder.

The junior registered 63 saves in the contest including 19 saves in the second period, 23 in the third period and 10 during the eight-minute overtime session.

“We’ve seen Wilson enough to know that it’s no surprise when he has a performance like that,” Gore said. “We’ve talked to our group for a while about quality shots over a vast quantity of shots. I thought we settled for a lot of routine chances on the perimeter. The tempo we played at in the third period and overtime was what we really wanted.”

St. Joseph’s Evan Bocchino (3:22 left, powerplay) and New Canaan’s Tyler Hill (2:17 left, blueline shot through a screen) traded first period goals for 1-1.

St. Joseph’s senior defenseman Andrew Van Etten showed his offensive-minded skills to make it 2-1 just 2:22 into the second period.

New Canaan — using its depth against St. Joseph’s two forward lines and two defense pairs — kept throwing rubber at Wilson.

Meanwhile, New Canaan senior goalie Liam Mooney kept St. Joseph in check with 30 saves.

“We’re fortunate to have two senior goalies (Mooney, Peter Windas) who each can be No. 1 goalies,” Gore said. “This was an opportunity to give Peter (Windas) a break (four days off). You can flip a coin between Liam and Peter. And we want both goalies to be ready for the postseason. It’s a good problem to have.”

It was a contest where skating and offense were at the forefront.

St. Joseph (6-10-1, 5-3-1 FCIAC), which had entered with a four-game losing streak and was 1-8 against Division I opponents this season, stayed away from drawing the needless penalties that hurt the Cadets on other nights.

“Our boys played strong. Our forecheck worked well. New Canaan is a strong squad. But we showed up to play,” St. Joseph coach Eddie Lemaire said. “Although Wilson had a lot of saves, our defense did block a lot of attempts and kept New Canaan’s attack to the outside until the third period.”

But New Canaan displayed the pedigree that has carried the Rams to records of 12-3-1 overall, 7-1-1 FCIAC as well as 9-2-1 in its last 12 contests. NC has four games left in its regular season.

The Rams, who entered at No. 5 in the Division I state playoff rankings, had six shots on a powerplay then hit a post with 11:27 left in regulation.

Wilson stopped an NC mini-breakaway with 7:24 left. But Gunnar Granito found the top left corner of the net off a Drew Morris feed for 2-2 with 4:16 remaining in regulation.

The offensive show continued, but Wilson was impenetrable right through the eight-minute overtime session leaving both sides with a well-deserved tie.

Every bit helps as St. Joseph is currently No. 16 in the 16-team Division I state rankings with three contests left in the regular season.

“We rely on Ryan (Wilson) so much,” St. Joseph’s Lemaire said. “After New Canaan tied it, we were on our heels. But Ryan came up big to preserve the tie.”



ST. JOSEPH 1 1 0 0—2

NEW CANAAN 1 0 1 0—2

At Darien Ice House.

Records: St. Joseph 6-10-1, 5-3-1 FCIAC; New Canaan 12-3-1, 7-1-1 FCIAC.

Goals: StJ—Evan Bucchino, Andrew Van Etten. NC—Tyler Hill, Gunnar Granito. Assists: StJ—Will Foldesi, Sean Attanasio. NC—Jack Webster, Harry Gelnaw, Drew Morris. Goalies: StJ—Ryan Wilson (62 saves). NC—Liam Mooney (30 saves).