The Darien girls ice hockey team has scored goals virtually at will early in the season. On Saturday night, it met resistance from an unexpected foe that has an FCIAC playoff spot as its top priority.

The Blue Wave still improved to 4-0 on the season, but had to work hard to secure a 3-0 win over Stamford-Westhill-Staples at Terry Conners Rink.

With a talented roster expected to compete for a state championship, Blue Wave coach Jamie Tropsa wasn't thrilled with his team's performance.

"We didn't come ready to play and it was evident in the way we played," Tropsa said. "I'm very discouraged right now to be honest. Give credit to Stamford, they worked very hard and did a great job containing some of our key players."

Claire Parry (Staples) starred in net for Stamford, turning aside 27 shots. Parry kept her team close with a number of crucial saves, including several with her glove on shots that seemed destined for the net.

"(Parry) was outstanding," Stamford coach Phil Miolene said. "I thought she was relaxed and confident, and we could feel that on the bench. I think that's why we played better. She controlled the game and we couldn't ask for anything more."

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Cassidy Schiff opened the scoring for Darien with 5:13 remaining in the opening period. Stamford (3-2) responded with pressure, but the Darien defense prevented any looks on net.

Courtney Lowe gave the Blue Wave a collective sigh of relief in the second period, scoring on shot off in close that took a deflection that left Parry flat-skated and gave the visitors a 2-0 lead.

Almost immediately following Lowe's goal, Staples had a two-on-one breakaway that called Darien goalie Emily Gianuzio into action. Gianuzio had to make three saves in the sequence, including one from each forward and a third from an onrushing defenseman.

"I don't think we ever relaxed," Tropsa said. "They had a couple of good chances; (Gianuio) came up both in the second and the third. They have a couple of dangerous forwards."

Darien put the game away in the third period, as Schuyler van den Broek found herself all alone in front of the net, and got a shot off that deflected off Parry's gear and into the cage. Darien began to pile on the pressure with its depth winning out, but Parry kept the score at 3-0.

After witnessing the Blue Wave destroy the other FCIAC contenders early in the season -- Stamford, which hasn't had a winning season in its short existence -- emerged from Saturday's defeat hopeful about the future.

"We're going to learn, and not take any team for granted," Miolene said. "We used to be the team that got taken for granted, we aren't going to that to anyone else. We've been hammered so many times, I guess it shows resilience."