BRIDGEPORT-- Down goes Darien.
Boosted by a pair of first period goals, No. 5 Notre Dame-Fairfield (11-4-1) toppled the top-ranked Blue Wave with a 2-1 victory at Webster Bank Arena on Saturday afternoon. The defeat was Darien's first since Dec. 12, and it snapped an 18-game unbeaten streak. Tyler Henchcliffe and Jonny Suporn notched goals for the Lancers, who were led all game by a stellar performance from goaltender Zak Bouve.
"He played outstanding," Darien coach Chris Gerwig said. "The kid was seeing a lot, and when you can see stuff it makes it a little easier to make saves. But, I will give him credit. He made some big saves when he needed to."
As part of a frantic finish, Bouve covered up three separate pucks over the game's last 11 seconds to nail down the win. The senior netminder recorded 30 saves on the game, which, according to Notre Dame-Fairfield coach Steve Hetherman, helped his team deliver quite a statement.
"We're back," he declared.
The Blue Wave (17-2-1) have now concluded their regular season, one bookended by losses. The state's top-ranked team opened its year on the wrong side of a 4-2 decision at Hamden before going 5-0-0 against other top-five competition prior to the weekend. The Lancers worked hard in the opening period to ensure their meeting with Darien would be different even though, they say, it was just another game.
"It really was just another game for us," Hetherman said. "Rankings really don't mean anything until the season's over. ... But they are a well-coached team. We knew we would have our hands full."
Neither team could gain a lasting grip on the puck until Notre Dame-Fairfield began to hem the Blue Wave inside their defensive zone four minutes into the contest. From there, the Lancers created two quality chances inside the slot, only to be stonewalled by poor luck and an excellent save by Darien goalie Mike Colon.
However, the third shot proved to be the charm when Henchcliffe slipped one past Colon on a sharp-angle try from the left circle.
Three minutes later, Darien responded to its 1-0 deficit with a couple long-range shots that were deftly blocked by Notre Dame-Fairfield defensemen. Over the same stretch, the Blue Wave did break through the frontline of the Lancer defense, but Bouve was there to meet their challenge.
Following the Darien passing attack with his eyes, the Lancer goalie rapidly moved left and rose up to halt a well-aimed one-timer from Sam Knowlton. Then, in reaction to the subsequent rebound, Bouve swiftly dove back at the opposite post, where he stopped another incoming shot.
The consecutive saves drew a roar from the Notre Dame-Fairfield crowd, which was thrown into a frenzy moments afterward when Suporn's score pushed the Lancer lead to 2-0.
"(Bouve) had a really good game," said Darien senior Tommy Watters. "He was shutting us down all over the ice, up high and down low."
Watters tallied the only Blue Wave goal of the game in the waning stages of the second period with a slapshot from the high slot. Owen Koorbusch and Nicholas Tuzinkiewicz were credited with assists on Darien's fourth score in its last three games.
DARIEN 0 1 0 --1
ND-FAIRFIELD 2 0 0 --2
Records: Darien 17-2-1, ND-Fairfield 11-4-1. Goals: D--Tommy Watters; NDF--Tyler Henchcliffe, Jonny Suporn; Assists: D--Owen Koorbusch, Nicholas Tuzinkiewicz; NDF--Craig Hessenius, Nick Carloto, Danny Walsh; Goalies: D--Mike Colon (30 saves); NDF--Zak Bouve (30); Shots: D--31; NDF--32