DARIEN -- With both teams burning up the ice heading into their Monday night showdown at the Darien Ice Rink, something had to give when the puck dropped between Ridgefield and New Canaan.
In the matchup of the perennial FCIAC-elite hockey clubs, it was New Canaan which won its seventh game in eight tries by scoring a 4-1 victory over its conference rival.
"That was huge going up against the defending FCIAC champions," said New Canaan's Puck Richardson, who scored twice. "Our junior co-captain Henry Stanton said that we don't want to lose another game this season, and it started tonight. We wanted to come out with as much intensity as we could."
New Canaan's dominance of the second period proved to be the difference, as a scoreless tie became a 3-0 lead for the Rams after the middle stanza.
"New Canaan deserved it. They ran us over and we didn't come out ready to go in the first," Ridgefield coach Shaun Gallagher said. "Poor coverage. We let them have the room, they took it and they buried it. There's really not much to say about this one."
Just over two minutes into the period, New Canaan defenseman John McMahon held the puck in the Ridgefield zone and sent a puck on net from the blue line. His shot appeared to bounce off a Ridgefield defenseman and into the back of the net for the lead.
"We knew Ridgefield was a really good team and we needed to get a statement win," New Canaan goalie Chris Koennecke said. "We came out with intensity and we went out and we did it. I've got to give a lot of credit to my defense today."
New Canaan continued to dominate play by sustaining time on the attack and giving up virtually no scoring chances to Ridgefield. With 1:48 left in the second, the Rams doubled their lead on a goal by Ben Patch, who scored after a Ridgefield defender swung his hand at an airborne puck and missed. Patch took advantage of the mistake by immediately unleashing his shot for the 2-0 lead. Patrick Hompe was credited with the assist.
Fourteen seconds later, New Canaan struck again for the 3-0 lead when Puck Richardson scored after being assisted by Henry Stanton and Luke Amero.
"That was huge. I think that defined this game," Richardson said. "Two goals in 14 seconds doesn't happen very often, so when it does happen you just have to build off that and move forward."
In a scoreless first period, the teams had a powerplay opportunity apiece but came up empty. Ridgefield's best scoring opportunity came when Chris Morrow passed from behind the New Canaan net to teammate Callan McCormick, but Koennecke made a glove save. After New Canaan quickly cleared the puck from its own zone, Luke Amero wristed a shot at the net, but Ridgefield netminder Dustin Rousa deflected the puck wide.
Due to some extracurriculars at the end of the second period, New Canaan began the third with a full two minutes of five-on-three powerplay action. Thirty-two seconds in, Richardson scored his second goal for the 4-0 lead.
Ridgefield avoided the shutout when McCormick scored with 4:03 remaining.
With both teams seemingly bound for the FCIAC playoffs, a rematch is certainly a possibility.
"I'm not worried we're going to show up like that in the FCIACs," Gallagher said.
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NEW CANAAN 4, RIDGEFIELD 1
Ridgefield 0 0 1--1
New Canaan 0 3 1--4
Records: New Canaan 9-4-2 (7-1 FCIAC); Ridgefield 13-4 (8-1 FCIAC).
Goals: NC--Puck Richardson 2, Ben Patch, John McMahon; R--Callan McCormick. Assists: NC--Luke Amero 2, Patrick Hompe, Henry Stanton, Stephen Mettler; R--Henry Gough. Goalies: NC--Chris Koennecke (20 saves); R--Dustin Rousa (23). Shots: NC--27; R--21.