DARIEN — Darien’s Mac Budd, like most coaches of the top Division I boys hockey programs, designs a schedule that will sacrifice an early-season win or two if it enhances the chances for postseason success.
If it helps for some impactful victories along the way, it is an important benefit.
Such was the case this afternoon, when the Blue Wave scored early — starting 2:35 in — and often, turning a much anticipated meeting with rival New Canaan into a surprising 10-2 rout at the Darien Ice Rink.
In a testament to the overall consistency of Darien’s play, nine different players scored.
“Our team played a really good game,” Budd said. “We really did. It’s our most complete game certainly all season. We’ve had some good games but I felt we did a really good job of moving the puck, breaking out. We had clean breakouts, a great first pass, we moved the puck in the neutral zone and our first line, they are devastating. They are quick, they move the puck well and they’re not selfish. It’s a tough line to stop.”
Bennett McDermott, who had two assists, was the lone multi-goal scorer. Jamison Moore, who netted the opening goal, also had four assists.
“That was a great game,” Moore said. “We’ve had trouble putting together three periods of good hockey. That was not the case today. We were confident we were the better team. We knew coming in we were going to go out and dominate.”
The Blue Wave scored six times in the second period to improve to 10-4 over all and 5-1 in league play. It is four points behind Greenwich and two behind the Rams (11-2-1, 6-1) and has a game at hand on both.
“We weren’t expecting that obviously,” Budd said of the margin of victory. “That’s a good hockey team. I think that’s an example of a couple things. First of all they’re young. They have a lot of young players who have probably not played in a New Canaan-Darien game. The whole environment is a little bit different. The place is packed, there’s a lot of energy. I think even though we have a young team too we have a bunch of guys who have experienced the environment before.”
New Canaan never got to ride any momentum off of its scores. After Albert Lian gave Darien a 2-0 lead, Michael Rayhner scored for the Rams at 12:19 of the opening period.
Ryan Spengler answered for the Blue Wave just 1:22 later.
Matt Fiorita and McDermott scored less than two minutes apart in the second period to give Darien a 5-1 lead. Jack Johnson gave the Rams a last glimmer of hope, answering McDermott 11 seconds later. Max Sharp scored for Darien 1:23 after that to begin a run of five unanswered goals.
“We had moments early on when they got two, we got one back and they immediately got another one,” New Canaan coach Clark Jones said. “It’s those moments where we had kids doing stuff that they normally aren’t doing. Risk taking that shouldn’t be going on.”
The Rams came in with a record of 10-0-1 in the previous 11 games since their only loss.
“I think the biggest thing that went on was early on they pressed really well and we had no poise with the puck,” Jones said. “But we also collapsed defensively. We’re one of the best teams anywhere around defensively. I don’t know if the moment was too big or what it was but our defensive structure just completely collapsed.”
The Blue Wave enjoyed a great week, which started with a 2-1 win over Fairfield Prep on a goal in the final minute.
“I want to challenge the guys. I’ve always felt it is not where you are now it’s where you are in March,” Budd said. “We want to play good teams and good hockey games. We don’t want to lose games obviously but I’ll be happier with a good loss to a great team rather than having a win where you don’t feel your guys are competing well and playing hard. There’s no doubt our strength of schedule helps us.”