Greenwich High

Greenwich High girls hockey team edged by undefeated New Canaan, 2-0

Photo by David Fierro: Greenwich High’s girls ice hockey team gathers prior to its game against New Canaan on Jan. 20, 2022, at Dorothy Hamill Skating Rink in Greenwich. The Rams skated to a 2-0 win.

New Canaan entered Thursday night’s game against FCIAC girls hockey rival Greenwich with a record of 12-0, while registering three goals or more in each of its victories.

The Rams added win No. 13 to their record, but the Cardinals exited the game with plenty of optimism, after limiting their high-scoring foes to a pair of goals.

Scoring one goal apiece in the second and third periods, New Canaan posted a 2-0 triumph over Greenwich at Dorothy Hamill Skating Rink, raising its record to a perfect 13-0.

Seniors Kaleigh Harden and Maddie Kloud scored in the second and third period, respectively, for the Rams, who received 19 saves by freshman goaltender Nikki Ferraro.

Greenwich goalie Emma Kuschner, center, is greeted by teammates Caroline Lawrence, left and Hannah Wahl at the conclusion of the Cardinals’ game against New Canaan at Dorothy Hamill Skating Rink.

New Canaan, which has received impressive production from its first two lines, entered the game averaging seven goals per contest.

“That’s the best defensively that we played and it was a complete 180 from last night’s game,” Greenwich coach Brooke Heron said, referring to the Cardinals’ 9-5 win against Wilton-Norwalk-McMahon on Wednesday. “I’m really proud of how the girls responded, a lot of good things happened in that game. I just wish we could have generated a little bit more offense. But we had opportunities, we just have to work on capitalizing on more of them.”

The victory was the second of the season for the Rams against the Cardinals. They posted a 5-2 win over Greenwich on Dec. 11 at Darien Ice House – the second game of the season for both squads.

“I thought they played a very good game,” New Canaan coach Rich Bulan said of Greenwich. “They played us much tougher than the first time and I’m not surprised, we always get tough games from them.”

Greenwich’s Peyton Jelinek, right, handles the puck out of the neutral zone, while being pursued by Kaleigh Harden of New Canaan in an FCIAC girls ice hockey matchup held at Dorothy Hamill Skating Rink on Jan. 21, 2022.

The Rams, who have received 54 points from their first line and the same exact point total from their second line, have both experience and underclassmen in their program.

“We’re deep and we’re very young too, we have nine freshmen and they have acclimated very well with the seniors,” Bulan said. “We only have three juniors, then we have a big sophomore class, so it’s a good mix. We have nine seniors, nine freshmen, seven sophomores and three juniors.”

Greenwich, which sports a record of 4-4, received 22 saves from junior goalie Emma Kunschner, is playing five games this week. They are 2-1 so far during their busy week, having beaten Wilton-Norwalk-McMahon and Fairfield Co-op.

“Compared to yesterday, we were communicating a lot more and I was able to tell them where to go and see if there were people in the slot and where they should be,” Kunschner said. “It was really good that we communicated so well.”

Greenwich goalie Emma Kunschner prepares to make a save against New Canaan.

The Cardinals and Rams headed into the second period scoreless, as Kunschner made 10 saves in goal, as did Ferraro. Kunschner kept the score 0-0, making a save off a shot from the left wing by Lexie Tully and a shot from the point by Maddie Tully with New Canaan on a power play early in the second period.

Just several seconds after the Rams’ power play ended, they scored. Finding space, Harden skated between the circles and snapped a shot that whizzed past Kunschner, giving New Canaan a 1-0 lead with 7:03 remaining in the second period. The visitors had several more opportunities to pad their lead, but Kunschner kept it a one-goal game, making nine saves during the second period. Greenwich was outshot 10-3 during the second period.

In the third period, the Cardinals registered nine shots on goal, as junior Sophie Roth, senior Lexi Danielson and junior Peyton Jelinek applied significant pressure in the Rams’ zone. New Canaan, however, scored the lone goal in the third period and it came very early.

Greenwich’s Tess Marciano clears the puck against New Canaan.

After New Canaan won the faceoff to start the third period, Kloud quickly skated in toward the net and from just below the left faceoff circle, converted a shot, giving the Rams a 2-0 advantage.

“Between 7 and 4 (Kloud and Harden) they are neck-and-neck in scoring and we are able to have them on different lines, which makes them both strong,” Bulan said. The first line and second line have 54 points – iit’s nice to have that don’t get that too often. Our third line and fourth line do a great job of keeping the puck out of the zone.”

Defensively, Greenwich was paced by Marciano, sophomore Lindsay Allen, freshman Alexis Carino and freshman Nina Coffee.

“The defense played really well and we did a really job of not getting stuck too much in the offensive zone,” said Carino, who is in her first season on the varsity team. “We played more cautious in this game, which was good, because if we didn’t we would have had more breakaways against us. Compared to our last game, it was a better score and it reflected that.”

Greenwich was edged by New Canaan, 2-0, in a key FCIAC game held on Jan. 20, 2022.

Greenwich plays a road game against Fairfield Co-op, which they defeated, 9-3, earlier in the week, on Saturday. They will then be on the road against Trumbull-St. Joseph on Sunday to conclude their busy five-game week.

“I think we had a tough game defensively, I know we lost, but I think we played good altogether,” Jelinek said. “I know it’s not the outcome we wanted, but we’re still building every day. Today we played two centers with two sets of wings and it worked out really well. There’s a lot of good aspects working together and communicating. There was a lot of talking on and off the ice, which helped us. This was a really good building step for us and we’re going to come out strong this weekend.”

Heron knows the team learned from the loss and will come out strong this weekend.

“It’s great to play a New Canaan and know the locker room is going to be pumped and step up to the challenge,” Heron said. “We did a good job of covering in front of the net and picking up sticks and making sure we were not giving them any sort of opportunities.

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