Ridgefield nips Darien to win FCIAC hockey title
The 2012 FCIAC boys hockey title game lived up the advanced billing -- and then some.
Senior standout Sean Wilkinson scored the game-winner with 10:38 remaining in the third period as second-seeded Ridgefield held off top-seeded Darien 3-2 to capture its first league championship since 2007 in a thrilling FCIAC final at Terry Conners Rink Saturday night.
Wilkinson's rebound goal off a shot by Chris Morrow was his 28th of the season -- and no doubt the biggest of his impressive career.
"It's unreal," said tournament MVP Wilkinson, who has 63 points this season. "I don't know if I have the words for this. It was a great game, and to come out on top means the world. (Morrow) took the shot and I just drove to the net. The puck came right on to my stick. I just buried it."
Darien's Nick Bruno netted his 14th goal of the session on a hard wrist shot from just inside the blue line at the 12:22 mark of the second period -- and Owen Koorbusch would bang home a rebound just 10 seconds after Ridgefield's second goal to tie it, 2-2, with 5:20 left in the period.
In this action-packed, penalty-free final, it took a total team effort for the Tigers (20-2) to avenge one of their two regular-season losses this winter.
Morrow and Jack Christensen each had goals, while Nate Gliedman made 18 saves. Brendan Hathaway, who had a hat trick in Darien's semifinal victory over New Canaan, had five shots on the night but was stoned by Gliedman each time -- including a blast with 2:20 left.
Gliedman's counterpart between the pipes, Darien's Max Rothston, turned away 19 shots -- several in spectacular fashion.
Rothston came off the ice with 1:03 remaining on a face-off in the Tigers' zone, and the Blue Wave would get two more drops of the puck in Ridgefield's end in the final minute, but to no avail.
"This is an incredible feeling," Ridgefield coach Sean Gallagher said in the midst of the postage celebration. "We had to work extremely hard on the defensive end. And what more can you say about Sean. He knows when to pass, and knows when to shoot. He was in the right place at the right time, as he always seems to be."
The teams could wind up meeting again in the Division I state tournament which begins on Wednesday. Ridgefield in the No. 3 seed and gets a first-round bye, while for Darien, a showdown with New Canaan awaits.
"It is a tough disappointing loss but that's the way the puck bounces," Blue Wave coach Chris Gerwig said. "Give Ridgefield credit. They are a very good hockey team. I'm proud of the way my team fought back twice. The character of this group all season has been to answer. We'll go back to work in the state tournament."