Greenwich’s girls ice hockey team entered the season believing it had numerous players capable of generating goals each game and so far, their premonition was correct.
Five different players registered goals for the Cardinals, who scored three times in the first period and three more times in the second period on their way to their second victory of the young season.
Peyton Jelinek recorded two goals and one assist, while Sophie Roth tallied one goal and three assists to propel Greenwich past the combined Ridgefield-Danbury-Immaculate team, 6-3, in an FCIAC game held at Dorothy Hamill Skating Rink on Wednesday night.
“They were a challenge, they are grinders and they definitely fought to the end,” Greenwich first-year coach Brooke Heron said of Ridgefield-Immaculate-Danbury. “I’m happy we scored six goals. Any game we can do that is a victory in itself.”
The 2-1 Cardinals, who got back on the winning track, after dropping a 5-2 decision to New Canaan this past Saturday at Darien Ice House, went into the second period with a 3-1 advantage on Ridgefield.
“I thought they (Ridgefield-Danbury-Immaculate) came to compete and they really pushed us, which made for a strong and competitive, challenging game,” GHS senior defender/tri-captain Tess Marciano said. “I think it will help us grow as a team.”
Despite the team’s loss to Darien, Marciano was pleased with the Cards’ overall play and spirit – a performance that carried into Wednesday’s FCIAC matchup against the Tigers.
“It showed that we have a lot of drive and power in us that we hadn’t unlocked in previous games,” Marciano said of the New Canaan game. “It showed how much fire we have as a team.”
Ridgefield/Danbury/Immaculate struck first, but Greenwich had a quick response. With the Tigers passing the puck in the Cardinals’ zone, Sophia Bianco snapped a shot from the right faceoff circle, that zipped past several players, including GHS goalie Emma Kunshner and the puck settled inside the left post, giving the visitors a 1-0 edge with 10:05 left in the opening period.
Greenwich evened the score at the 7:48 mark of the first period. Following a faceoff in Greenwich’s zone, the home team went on a rush up the ice, with Sophie Roth finishing the play with a one-timer off a pass from Jelinek, making it 1-1.
“After they scored their goals, we just really wanted to get the momentum back, so I saw the opportunity and took it and it shot it backhanded and it went in,” said Sophie Roth, who notched her first goal of the season.
On the ensuing faceoff, junior forward Caroline Lawrence gave Greenwich the lead for good at 2-1, tallying off a breakout from Sophie Roth, just seven seconds later. Junior forward Caroline Lawrence stretched Greenwich’s lead to 3-1, when she scored in traffic in front of the net, knocked the puck past Ridgefield goalie Bella Growley with 2:55 still left in the first period.
“That’s something I said at the beginning of the season, we all have to contribute,” Heron said. “They are shooting the puck more, they’re there to get the rebounds, they’re hungrier in front of the net, so we’re progressing. We even had some pretty goals tonight.”
Kunshner, a junior, kept it a 3-1 game by making a nifty save off a shot from Ridgefield’s Sophia Dadd from the right wing late in the opening period. The Tigers closed to within 3-2 on a goal from forward Brianna Boulange 17 seconds into the second period. Boulange blocked an attempted clearing pass, got loose on a breakaway and scored the visitors’ second goal.
Jelinek, a junior forward, gave the Cardinals a two-goal advantage again only 13 seconds later. After GHS controlled the puck on the ensuing faceoff and quickly moved it inside the Tigers’ zone, Jelinek tallied off a rebound, putting the home team on top, 4-2.
“Our team is really good at forechecking and staying at the net and if we keep doing that, we’re going to get goals,” Jelinek said. “That’s how we scored most of our goals.”
She is pleased to see the team clicking so well this early in the season.
“I think we’re working really well together and we’re all getting to know each other,” Jelinek said. “The team last year had a lot of chemistry, so this year the new girls and the freshmen are stepping up. We have a new goalkeeper Emma and it’s fun to be on the same team as her, because she always has our back in the net.”
Open and skating down the right wing, freshman Aubrey Roth scored her first career goal for the Cards, converting a shot with 12:30 to go in the second period for a 5-2 Greenwich lead. There are three Roth sisters on the Cardinals’ squad – Sophie, Aubrey and Kelsey.
“There is always three of us on the team,” smiled Sophie Roth, referring to her oldest sister Delaney, a 2021 GHS graduate, who finished her Cardinals ice hockey career last winter. “It is fun going to practice and every game with them.”
Jelinek sealed Greenwich’s scoring, going top shelf with a snap shot at the 10:55 mark of the second period, putting her team on top, 6-2. Ridgefield’s third goal came with 6:39 to go in the second period, as Bianco tallied for the second time.
Marciano, sophomore Lindsey Allen, freshman Nina Coffee (who assisted on Jelinek’s second goal) and junior Hannah Wahl helped pace Greenwich’s defensive effort. Greenwich will face a significant challenge Saturday, when rival Darien visits Dorothy Hamill Skating Rink for a 4:30 p.m. matchup.
“Tonight, we had to step it up in the second and third period,” Sophie Roth said. “We play Darien and the intensity is going to be higher, so we have to be ready to play.”
The Cardinals know they must continue to have a combined effort in order to keep checking victories off its schedule.
“This year, especially, we have a lot of people who are willing to step up and score the goals and make the plays that we need,” Marciano said. “We have a lot of playmakers on the team and I think it helps that we already work together as a team.”