Talk about taking control of a game quickly.
Top-seeded Darien was intent of getting off to a good start against fifth-seeded Greenwich in Wednesday’s FCIAC Tournament semifinals and it wasted little time in doing so, setting the tone of this matchup from the game’s first shift.
Senior forward Bobby Whittaker scored just 16 seconds into the game, signaling a prelude of what was to come from the Blue Wave. By the time 7:30 was played, Darien had a four-goal lead and was on its way to posting a 7-3 FCIAC semifinal-round win over the Cardinals at Darien Ice Rink.
The Blue Wave (13-5-3), who are 3-0 against the Cardinals this season, play second-seeded Fairfield Warde/Ludlowe co-op in Saturday’s 3 p.m. FCIAC Tournament final at Danbury Ice Arena.
Junior forward Charlie Schwind recorded a hat trick to help power Darien to the FCIAC championship game for the first time since 2020. Whittaker registered two goals, while freshman forward Jack Marisca had one goal and one assist to also spark the winning effort.
“I thought it was very important that we get off to a good start, which we have not done frequently this year,” Darien coach Mac Budd said. “Thankfully, we did tonight. We got them on their heels early and took care of business.”
While Darien was thrilled with the manner in which they began yesterday’s semifinal showdown, Greenwich, of course, wishes it could play the first part of the opening period over.
“We were down 4-0 seven minutes into the game,” Greenwich coach Jack Duffy said. “The physical effort was there, but we weren’t ready mentally. You can’t come out against a team like Darien and not be mentally ready.”
The Cardinals (7-14-1) received one goal apiece from senior forward Will Duncan, sophomore forward Gus McCarvey and sophomore forward Crosby Newi – his first career varsity goal.
Darien took a 1-0 lead shortly after the game’s opening faceoff. Handling the puck off a pass from senior forward Tyler Reckin, a wide open Whittaker snapped a shot from the slot past GHS senior goalie Cole Studwell for the matchup’s first goal.
Executing well off a faceoff in the Cards’ zone, the Blue Wave tallied with 13:23 remaining in the first period, with Whittaker putting the puck home again. With Darien on a power play, senior defenseman Graf Ely received the puck between the circles and tallied, making it 3-0 at the 10:42 mark of the opening period. That prompted Duffy to insert junior goalie Nick Sinisi into the game for Studwell.
“That was no fault of Cole’s,” Duffy emphasized. “Three goals in five minutes, obviously the kids aren’t playing in front of him, you’ve got to shake it up. They were wide open shots.”
Schwind’s first goal came with 7:22 still to go in the first period, a power play goal that he snuck past Sinisi inside the right post, putting the hosts ahead, 4-0.
“That good start was the game,” Budd said. “There were some awesome goals. We have some guys that have some really good skill up there. When they pass the puck and work as a unit of five, they score nice goals. That’s what happened in that first period.”
Greenwich entered the semifinal-round matchup aiming to build upon the momentum it gained by skating to a 3-1 win over conference rival Ridgefield in the tournament’s quarterfinal-round. Yet it didn’t happen for the Cardinals last night.
“That start cost us, that was the whole game,” Duffy said. “When you talk about a playoff game, it’s got to be a full effort for 45 minutes. We took the first five minutes off and were down 3-0, it’s just unacceptable.”
“I think that giving up those three goals early put some kids back on their heels,” Duffy continued. “We never really got into a rhythm until the third period – that’s tough. You want to come into these games and give yourself an opportunity to win – we never gave ourselves an opportunity.”
Fifteen seconds after the Blue Wave scored its fourth goal, the Cardinals notched their first goal, following a faceoff. McGarvey tallied off a Duncan assist, cutting the home team’s advantage to 3-1. The Blue Wave responded with a pair of second-period goals, both of which were scored by Schwind, who completed his hat trick.
Sophomore Gavin Samame and Marisca assisted on Schwind’s first goal of the second period, which occurred 1:39 into the frame. Seniors Asa Beach and Tyler Reckin had the assists on Schwind’s second tally of the second period and third goal of the night (2:25 remaining, power play goal.
“Schwind was great, he’s worked hard,” Budd noted. “It took a while for him and I give him a lot of credit, he persevered and is playing very well right now, which is good thing for us at this point of the season. Getting off to the lead was enormous for us in a game like this.”
To Greenwich’s credit, they had some positive moments in the third period, when it could have let down, since it was facing such a daunting deficit. Duncan scored off a pass from sophomore Graydon Raabe with 4:59 left in the final period and Newi registered a power play goal late in the period off assists from McGarvey and junior Michael Orrico.
“We just came out flat and honestly, if we could just have those five minutes back, it would have been a very different game,” Duncan said. “We had a few really good games before this, so we wanted to use our momentum.”
Darien outshot Greenwich for the game, 36-15. Junior Finley Hegarty made 12 saves for the Blue Wave, while Sinisi (27 saves) and Studwell (2 saves) combined to stop 29 shots. Up next for GHS is the CIAC Division I State Tournament, which commences next week.
“I’m excited, I’m hopeful and I’m excited to see what we can do next,” Duncan said.
Categories: Greenwich High, Winter sports
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