Greenwich senior goalie Hannah Goldenberg did all she could to keep New Canaan’s relentless forward lines at bay during Tuesday’s FCIAC girls ice hockey matchup, turning away 37 shots, which came at her in all directions.
A high-scoring team that had scored five or more goals in four of their first five games, the Rams tallied twice Tuesday, but that was enough to skate past a Cardinals squad, which was forced to play plenty of defense throughout.
Using an effective forecheck to keep the puck in Greenwich’s zone the majority of the game, New Canaan scored a goal in the first and third period to record a 2-0 win at Dorothy Hamill Skating Rink. The Rams, who received goals from senior Courtney O’Connell and junior Grace Flatow, raised their record to 5-1 with the triumph.
Rams coach Rich Bulan was pleased with his squad’s performance and praised Greenwich’s effort.
“We know we can skate and we know we are deep and can put a lot of pressure on teams,” Bulan said. “But (Greenwich coach) Alex (Lerchen) always gets that team up to play us and they always play us tough and they played us tough tonight. I love that we can go three lines deep and five defensemen and can skate with anybody. I’m proud of my team, but I’m also really impressed with how Greenwich played.”
The Cardinals’ record stands at 3-2 following the loss. They’ll continue a busy week with a game against Wilton-Norwalk-McMahon Wednesday at Winter Garden Ice Arena.
“We have kind of been missing that spark a little bit in some of our games,” Lerchen said. “We knew we had to bring our best tonight and I think the girls did. I give them a lot of credit for competing and doing their best out there.”
O’Connell scored the only goal the Rams needed on this night with 11:54 remaining in the first period. Junior Grace Crowell sent the puck to O’Connell, who was positioned at the high slot. With Goldenberg being screened in front, O’Connell converted a snap shot, giving the Rams a 1-0 lead. New Canaan outshot the Cardinals 16-3 in the opening period, with O’Connell, Crowell and junior Kaleigh Harden helping lead the visitors offensive charge.
“What we’ve really been working on throughout our season is getting it to the red line, dumping it deep and forechecking,” O’Connell said. “We tried to skate a little too much in the beginning of the season and we realized that didn’t work. But if we get over the red line, we have the depth, with three three great lines, to score goals. We need to keep forechecking that way.”
Goldenberg kept it a one-goal game heading into the second period with 15 first-period saves.
“I think we played really well, the effort was there,” Goldenberg said. “Those goals were just bad bounces for us. New Canaan is a really good team, but I think we played super well.”
Said Lerchen: “Hannah played outstanding she’s a gamer, a senior captain and she is trustworthy in net. She gives us a chance to win every night.”
A Rams tripping penalty put the Cards on a power play with 4:37 to go in the second period, but an effective penalty kill, led by senior McKenna Harden, prevented Greenwich from capitalizing. The Rams also went on a power play late in the second period, but were unable to build on their lead. Greenwich defenders Delaney Roth, Tess Marciano and Emiri Fukuchi were kept busy by New Canaan’s forward lines throughout.
“We were very impressed with the intensity we came out with today,” Roth said. “Everyone was fired up and ready to play against a great New Canaan team and we stuck with them. We were playing defense a lot which makes it difficult to put the puck in the net. But we were very happy with the intensity the team came out with and we played a full 45 minutes.”
Flatow gave New Canaan a 2-0 edge when she tallied off a rebound with 13:05 to go in the third period. Kelly Benson and McKenna Harden were each credited with assists on the second goal for the Rams, who received 11 saves from Blythe Novick.
“We feel great, the first couple of days, we were figuring things out,” O’Connell said. “The past three games we’ve looked better than we have for a while. We’re connecting, we have chemistry and we have depth.”
Greenwich, which split its two regular-season games with New Canaan last season, faces the Rams again on Saturday at Darien Ice House.
“We need to work on maintaining it in our offensive zone, so hopefully we can bounce back on Saturday,” Goldenberg said.
Added Roth: “We want to work on making smart decisions with the puck when we have less time and space and just trying to get more shots on goal. We weren’t really able to contest their goalie, so we need to work on getting the puck in the net. I feel every day we’re getting better and we are only going up from here.”