SHELTON \u2014 Three years to the day of the last CHSGHA girls ice hockey final, New Canaan will finally have a chance to defend its state crown. And it will come in a rematch of that title game against Darien. The Rams and Blue Wave, the top two seeds in state tournament, punched their tickets to the championship game with semifinal victories Saturday night at the Rinks at Shelton. No. 1 New Canaan defeated No. 5 ETB 4-1 in the opener, and No. 2 Darien defeated No. 6 Avon 5-1 in the nightcap. New Canaan (23-0-1) and Darien (14-4-2) will face off in the CHSGHA final at 7 p.m., Wednesday, March 9, at Bennett Rink in West Haven. The Rams defeated the Wave 3-1 in the last state final on March 9, 2019. The tournament was canceled in the semifinal round in 2020, and no tournament was held in 2021. \u201cIt\u2019s just fantastic for the seniors and for all the girls to have this again,\u201d New Canaan coach Rich Bulan said. \u201cWith the FCIAC, it was great that we were able to have that for them last year and they had something to play for. But this is even bigger. Now we get to take that next step.\u201d \u201cIt means so much,\u201d said Darien junior Chelsea Donovan, who had a hat trick against Avon. \u201cIt\u2019s exciting to finally be in this tournament and especially to be in the championship.\u201d New Canaan and Darien have combined for 11 of the 14 championships since the sport\u2019s first state tournament was held in 2006. The Rams have seven titles and the Wave has four. They\u2019ve gone head-to-head in the state final three times, with Darien winning 3-2 in 2009, and New Canaan winning 2-1 in 2010 and again in 2019. The Rams are unbeaten in their last 35 games (34-0-1) and are one win away from an undefeated season. If their 24 games, they\u2019ve won 22 by at least two goals. \u201cWe\u2019re all family, we\u2019re all each other\u2019s best friends and it\u2019s really easy to play together,\u201d New Canaan sophomore defender Lexie Tully said. \u201cWhen you have that kind of chemistry, it makes it that much more fun.\u201d New Canaan defeated the Wave 3-1 and 5-0 during the regular season this winter, but Darien coach Jamie Tropsa is ready to face the Rams again. \u201cI\u2019ve said it before, I wish we could play them 10 times,\u201d Tropsa said. \u201cIt makes most of us better and we\u2019ll see what happens. I\u2019m going to do everything I can do to get them ready to play, and I\u2019m excited for it.\u201d In its win over ETB, New Canaan held a 39-16 advantage in shots, with senior co-captain Kaleigh Harden, freshman Maddie Tully, junior Amanda Benson and sophomore Lexie Tully all scoring. The Rams led 2-1 after one period and kept the pressure on with 13 shots in each period. \u201cThe shots were 39-16 and that\u2019s indicative of how we played,\u201d Bulan said. \u201cFrank\u2019s (ETB coach Usselgio) teams are always scrappy, they\u2019re always tough, their goaltender (Maren Riley) played very well, but we\u2019re going to wear you down when we\u2019re playing the way we did tonight. It was a very good game and I\u2019m very proud of the girls.\u201d ETB\u2019s one goal came from senior Meghan Croyle, who forced a turnover in the defensive zone and then scored on a breakaway. That tied the game at 1-1 with 2:07 to play in the first period, but New Canaan had a quick answer when Maddie Tully cleaned up a loose puck for a goal a minute and a half later. Harden and Lexie Tully assisted on that play. Benson scored the third goal 36 seconds into the second period to make it 3-1, and Lexie Tully\u2019s empty-netter with 1:44 remaining iced the victory. Fifth-seeded ETB (12-7-4) lost in the CCC semifinals but bounced back to beat two FCIAC teams in the states, topping No. 12 Trumbull\/St. Joseph 3-2, and No. 4 Stamford\/Westhill\/Staples 4-2, before running into New Canaan. \u201cUnless you win the championship, and there\u2019s only one team that\u2019s doing that, it always ends with some kind of tears,\u201d Usseglio said. \u201cI\u2019m proud of them. We had a great year, we got to the semifinals, we were playing an undefeated team, and we played them pretty tough. We battled and the girls did a great job executing what we wanted to do. But beyond this game, it was a great season.\u201d In game two, Darien wasted no time gaining the advantage, as Donovan scored 16 seconds after the opening drop, and freshman Natalie Beach made it 2-0 at 1:02. \u201cThat was an incredible feeling. I really wasn\u2019t expecting to score that early on,\u201d Donovan said. \u201cIt was just putting on the pressure quick and scoring early so that we could start off with a nice lead.\u201d Donovan and Beach were unstoppable, combining for all of Darien\u2019s goals. Donovan added an assist to her hat trick, and Beach scored twice and assisted once. For CCC champion Avon (18-5-2), which had a nine-game win streak snapped, Bella Bonfiglio scored with an assist from senior defender Shelby Little. Darien was knocked out of the FCIAC tournament in the semifinals by Stamford\/Westhill\/Staples, but has rebounded with two wins in the states while scoring 11 goals. \u201cThere\u2019s a good team in that room and when they all show up and play motivated, smart, fast hockey, we\u2019re a good team,\u201d Tropsa said. \u201cWhen we don\u2019t we struggled and we get caught in ourselves. First period tonight, we came out ready to play. \u201cWe\u2019ve had a couple of times this year where we\u2019ve put two good games in a row together. Now we\u2019ve got to put three games in a row.\u201d email@example.com; @dstewartsports CHSGHA SEMIFINALS NEW CANAAN 4, ETB 1 ETB 1 0 0 - 1 New Canaan 2 1 1 - 4 Scoring: First period: NC - Kaleigh Harden (Lexie Tully, Grace Crowell) 9:32; ETB - Meghan Croyle 12:53; NC - Maddie Tully (Harden, Lexie Tully) 14:23; Second period: NC - Amanda Benson (Crowell) 0:36; Third period: NC - Lexie Tully (EN) 13:16. Goalies: ETB - Maren Riley 35 saves; NC - Nikki Ferraro 15 saves. Records: ETB 12-7-4, New Canaan 22-0-1. DARIEN 5, AVON CO-OP 1 Avon 0 0 1 - 1 Darien 4 0 1 - 5 Scoring: First period: D - Chelsea Donovan (Keira Austin) 0:16; D - Natalie Beach 1:02; D - Donovan (Mallory Clark) 3:23; D - Beach (Donovan, Kelsey Brown) 10:23; Third period: A - Bella Bonfiglio (Shelby Little) 7:46; D - Donovan (Beach) 10:46. Goalies: A - Sophia Ojala 15 saves; D - Claire Haupt 19 saves. Records: Avon 18-5-2. Darien 14-4-2.