DARIEN -- If there was any doubt this was a special season for the Darien boys ice hockey team, wonder no longer.
The Blue Wave have accepted every challenge while playing their most demanding schedule in recent memory.
And with the exception of a season-opening road loss to Hamden, it has been clear sailing for Darien.
No obstacle proved insurmountable for the Blue Wave Thursday afternoon as they rallied from a two-goal deficit to conquer Fairfield Prep 3-2 in overtime before a capacity crowd at Darien Ice Rink.
It was Darien's second victory in two meetings against vaunted Fairfield Prep (8-3-2).
It was Darien's eighth consecutive triumph as well as the 12th straight contest where the Blue Wave (11-1-1) allowed two goals or less.
"A lot of us (11 seniors in all) have worn this uniform for four years," said defenseman Nicholas Allam, who had the game-winning goal just 33 seconds into overtime. "This season is all about making a difference and making a statement."
The statement Fairfield Prep made in the opening 9:14 of the clash was don't sleep on us.
Ken Kochiss scored on a knuckleball shot with 8:10 left in the first period. Matt Wikman put home a rebound of a Steven Bayles shot with 5:46 left and the Jesuits led 2-0.
"Our execution was great in the first period," Fairfield Prep coach Matt Sather said.
Darien coach Chris Gerwig smartly used his timeout at 2-0 and the Blue Wave players settled in.
Although Prep's attack made Darien senior goalie Michael Colon (22 saves) work hard, the Blue Wave slowly mounted their comeback.
Jack Massie beat Fairfield Prep senior goalie Chris Gutierrez (18 saves) to the top left corner off a Connor Davis pass with 9:02 left in the second period to cut the deficit to 2-1.
Darien's Tommy Watters forged a 2-2 deadlock with 6:35 left in regulation, snapping the puck from the left circle past Gutierrez off a Nicholas Tuzinkiewicz pass. Read Full Article
"We started slow but we kept our focus. We didn't get worried down 2-0," Allam said. "We just got to work."
"I didn't think our execution was good in the second period. But we played well in the third period," Sather said. "We just couldn't get that third goal that would have broken it open for us."
The overtime was a blur.
Darien won a faceoff to the right of Prep's net. Massie made a beautiful diagonal pass from the right boards to Allam, who was wide open at the left point.
The Blue Wave defense had gotten precious few point shots through to the net in regulation.
But Allam's blast landed under the crossbar, touching off yet another blue and white celebration.
"I was wide open," Allam said. "In OT you're looking for any funny bounce of the puck or any scramble in front of the net. It was a great pass and I just got the puck to the net."
Darien took sole possession of second place in the Division I state rankings from Fairfield Prep with the win.
Notre Dame of West Haven remains No. 1 due to its overall strength of schedule despite two losses to New Canaan and one loss to Darien.
"What impressed me the most was we shut down a good Prep offense for two periods," Gerwig said. "Our kids didn't stop playing down 2-0. Resilient is the word for this group. They did what good teams do. They found a way to come back and win."
And Prep will have to wait for the 16-team Division I state tournament in March to get a third try at stopping the Darien express.
"The first time we met was very early in the season. Probably too early for either of us to know what we really had," Sather said. "But at this time of the year we know, and this contest had meaning. Darien is a tough, veteran squad that has answered every challenge. We take our hats off to them. But there's still a lot of hockey to be played before we might see them again."
FAIRFIELD PREP 2 0 0 0 --2
DARIEN 0 1 1 1 --3
Records: Fairfield Prep 8-3-2; Darien 11-1-1. Goals: FP -- Ken Kochiss, Matt Wikman. D -- Jack Massie, Tommy Watters, Nicholas Allam. Assists: FP -- Steven Bayles. D -- Connor Davis, Nicholas Tuzinkiewicz, Massie. Goalies: FP -- Chris Gutierrez (18 saves). D -- Michael Colon (22).