Benson’s hat trick leads New Canaan girls hockey past Darien

DARIEN — As if the New Canaan girls ice hockey team hasn’t found enough offense this season, now the Rams have a hat trick from a defender in a game against the state’s second-ranked team.

Junior Amanda Benson scored once in each period and helped the defense pitch a shutout as New Canaan dominated in a 5-0 victory over Darien Saturday night at the Darien Ice House.

Benson’s first goal came 32 seconds after the opening puck drop and set the tone for the Rams’ fifth straight win against the rival Blue Wave.

“Against any team (a hat trick) would be amazing, but against Darien, with the rivalry being so big — I can’t even describe how happy I am,” Benson said. “We work for it every practice and this is what we want. We just came out and we took it to them. Obviously, I couldn’t have scored those three goals without my team.”

New Canaan (17-0-1) led 2-0 after one period, extended the gap to three in the second, and capped the win with a two-goal third frame. The Rams were constantly buzzing the Wave net and outshot Darien 29-21.

“The energy was everything we wanted to see,” New Canaan coach Rich Bulan said. “You know they’re going to come out hard, you know how good they are, and they’re always our toughest challenge. The energy we had, and then scoring quick, was big.”

Darien (12-3-2) had won its last three games, against state contenders ETB, Guilford and Simsbury, but couldn’t find its rhythm against New Canaan.

“That team wanted it more than us,” Darien coach Jamie Tropsa said. “Third period, the puck was in their zone the whole time, but we couldn’t get anything generated from it. Hats off to them. They have a great team over there and hopefully, we can get them at least once more.”

New Canaan’s freshman goalie Nikki Ferraro made 21 saves and earned her seventh shutout, tying the team’s record for a rookie.

“Nikki was focused,” Bulan said. “She was in position, she was covering rebounds and directing rebounds. That was a solid game from her against one of the best teams in the state.”

Benson’s opening goal came with an assist from sophomore defender Lexie Tully, who drove through several Wave players and whipped a pass across to Benson for a one-timer.

Eight minutes later, freshman Maddie Tully doubled the advantage to 2-0.

Benson netted her second goal during a power play in the second period, and Benson and senior Caitlin Tully scored the Rams’ third-period goals.

With the playoffs getting under way on Feb. 22, New Canaan is in a good place, while Darien is searching for consistency.

“This team’s been a little up and down, but they have the talent to win big games,” Tropsa said. “Now, we just have to figure out how to get that done.”


Amanda Benson, New Canaan: The junior defender netted three goals and was part of a defense which registered a shutout.


“That (1-1) tie against Simsbury (on Feb. 2) put things in perspective. We talked in the locker room and said we’re never going to be in that situation again. We’re going to go out there, start every game off our way and then finish it right and that’s what we did today.” - New Canaan’s Amanda Benson; @dstewartsports


Darien 0 0 0 - 0

New Canaan 2 1 2 - 5

Scoring: First period: NC - Amanda Benson (Lexie Tully), 14:28; NC - Maddie Tully (Kaleigh Harden, Grace Crowell), 6:40; Second period: NC - Benson, 2:47; Third period: NC - Benson (Caitlin Tully), 6:32; NC - Caitlin Tully (Maddie Tully), 14:21.

Goalies: D - Claire Haupt 17 saves, Katherine Kahn 7 saves; NC - Nikki Ferraro 21 saves.

Records: Darien 12-3-2, New Canaan 18-0-1.