The opportunities were plentiful, but the goals weren’t for Greenwich in its game against FCIAC girls ice hockey rival Darien on Saturday evening.
In fact, the Cardinals couldn’t solve Blue Wave senior goalie Claire Haupt, who registered 36 saves in leading her team to its third straight win to start the season.
Greenwich played well, but didn’t finish in front of the net and Darien tallied twice during the third period of its hard-fought 3-0 win at Dorothy Hamill Skating Rink.
Morgan Massey, Mallory Clark and Chelsea Donovan scored a goal apiece for Darien, which, like Greenwich, recorded 36 shots on goal during a consistent performance that pleased coach Jamie Tropsa.
“I’m very happy, this is probably the best game we’ve played all year so far,” Tropsa said. “I’m happy we did it for three periods. There were some times when Greenwich put pressure on us. Greenwich is a good team and their goalie was outstanding. But all-in-all, I’m very happy with our effort.”
Indeed, Cardinals junior goalie Emma Kunschner turned in an impressive performance between the pipes, making 33 saves. Kunschner made 11 saves in the first period, then stopped 13 more shots during the second.
“I’m proud of her, she was getting a little beat up out there, but continued to move forward,” Greenwich coach Brooke Heron said of Kunshner, who was shaken up a bit in the second period during a scramble in front of the net but remained in the game. “I wanted to see us compete until the very end and we did that.”
Greenwich played the early-season FCIAC game a bit shorthanded, as freshman defender Nina Coffee and junior Hannah Wahl were among the several players who were not in action on Saturday. Junior Caroline Lawrence, made the switch from forward to defense, to help fill the void on the blue line.
“I’m really impressed with our team and our goalie,” Cardinals senior co-captain Lily Bates said. “It was really hard, because we were short four or five girls. A couple are sick, some are hurt, but I thought we adapted well. Caroline Lawrence a forward, played defense today and we changed around the lines a lot, but I’m really impressed with how we played.”
The Cardinals went on a power play twice in the first period, but the game remained scoreless, as Haupt tallied 11 saves in the period. In the second period, the Blue Wave goalkeeper turned away 14 shots, as Greenwich’s Sophie Roth, Peyton Jelinek, Aubrey Roth, Bates and Tess Marciano tested her with shots.
“She made saves when she had to, I’m very happy for Claire,” Tropsa said. “That was a good effort for her. I’m glad she got the shutout too.”
On a power, Darien seized a 1-0 lead at the 5:25 mark of the second period. Massey, a junior, tallied on a one-timer from the left wing off a pass from junior freshman defender Keira Austen, giving the Blue Wave the one-goal edge.
Following a body check penalty by Greenwich, Darien quickly capitalized on its power play opportunity early in the third period. Just seconds into the power play, Donovan, a junior forward, converted a shot from the right faceoff circle, putting the visitors on top, 2-0, with 14:22 left in the final period.
With 9:12 to go in the third period, Darien padded its lead, thanks to Donovan. Controlling the puck along the boards near the left wing, Donovan created space for herself, skated in between the circles and went top shelf with a snap shot that went over the shoulder of Kunschner, making it 3-0.
“The third period we started strong and really set the tone,” Tropsa said. “We executed much better than we have all year, so I think that was the difference for us.”
Greenwich, which doesn’t play again until the New Year, was also pleased with its all-around execution.
“We had a lot of drive and we worked really hard, but we couldn’t really follow through when it came to getting goals in the net, which was the issue and I think we were a little worn down, because we were short on the bench,” said Marciano, who helped pace the Cards’ defensive effort. “When you’re short on the bench, you have to have a different mentality, because you are aware that you are going to be pushing yourself to your fullest.”
“Caroline (Lawrence) played defense today and she was phenomenal,” Marciano continued. She was really great. It was interesting playing with three ‘D’, because that changes the dynamic a lot. It was a different pace and we made due with it, despite the loss.”
The Cardinals (2-2) are in action again on Jan. 3 against Wilton-Norwalk-McMahon at Dorothy Hamill Skating Rink. They’ll get another chance to play Darien on Feb. 2 at Darien Ice House.
“We’ll see them again,” Heron said. “We’re making progress and things will start to go our way if we continue to do the right things. We’ll get those bounces.”
“It’s helpful to play teams like this, because they’re good and they provide good competition,” Bates said.