No. 1 Darien tips No. 6 Ridgefield, forges tie atop FCIAC

DARIEN — When Matt Fiorita scored during the opening minute of the second period of No. 1 Darien’s hockey game against No. 6 Ridgefield on Friday night, the Blue Wave had a 3-0 lead and appeared to be on their way to a romp.

Then the Tigers crashed the party.

Ridgefield rallied and closed to within one goal of the lead with 9:15 remaining, before Darien pulled out a 4-3 victory in a key FCIAC game at the Darien Ice House.

The Wave (14-4 overall, 9-1 FCIAC), which has now won six straight since its weekend trip to Rhode Island, got the decision, but the Tigers didn’t go down easily.

“There was no doubt that we were in a dogfight,” Darien coach Mac Budd said. “When you’ve been around for a while, you know one thing: You’re going to have to go through Ridgefield. They always have a good team, they’re well-coached and you’re going to have to figure out a way to beat them.”

“The coaching staff is definitely proud of the guys tonight,” Ridgefield coach Shaun Gallagher said. “They did not quit, they did not pout, and they kept working hard. We fell a little bit short tonight, but we definitely will take some very positive things from this game.”

The Blue Wave snapped a seven-game losing streak to Ridgefield, which had won every meeting between the teams during the past three years. Darien’s last victory over the Tigers was a 5-0 shutout in 2015-16. Ridgefield took two tight games last winter: 3-2 in overtime and 2-0 on consecutive days.

Darien’s victory also forged a three-way tie atop the FCIAC standings. The Wave, No. 3 New Canaan and No. 5 Greenwich are all 9-1 in league play with one game remaining. Should they all win, a random tiebreaker, such as a coin flip or lots, would be needed to break the deadlock, leaving the teams’ ultimate fate out of their hands.

“I haven’t really thought about it that much because we’re trying to win each game so we can get to that spot,” Budd said. “I don’t think it’s ideal that we’ll decide this with a coin toss. It seems like there would be a number of ways that might be better to figure the whole thing out, but if that’s what’s in the rule book, that’s what we’ll do.”

Darien scored at key moments against Ridgefield, netting goals in the first and last minutes of the first period before Fiorita’s goal 43 seconds into the second frame.

The Wave wasted little time getting on the board, as Jamison Moore, who had three assists, slipped a pass in front to Sam Erickson for a goal just 12 seconds after the opening drop.

Darien ‘s second goal came with 10.7 seconds left in the first period, as Bennett McDermott scored the first of his two goals, with another assist from Moore.

“The first goal just showed that we came ready to play,” Moore said. “We’ve had a history of maybe not starting games the way we should, so we were glad to get that one right off the bat. And then we regained the momentum going into the first intermission, which was huge.”

Down 3-0 after Fiorita’s goal, Ridgefield started its comeback when Michael Conciatore, who scored twice and had an assist, netted a power play goal at 6:35.

McDermott scored with assists from Erickson and Moore at 7:30, but Conciatore found the net again, this time on a breakaway, just 45 seconds later to close the gap to 4-2.

“We got away from our game plan in the second period,” Moore said. “We were, quite honestly, too selfish. We just needed to keep it simple and we didn’t, so they were able to get back into the game.”

Ridgefield made it a one-goal deficit when Luke Welsh scored early in the third period, but Darien held on down the stretch to get the win.

“They created opportunities by keeping it simple,” Gallagher said of his forwards. “It would’ve been nice to bury a couple more, but a lot of credit goes to Darien. They worked hard and did a good job.”


Jamison Moore, Darien. The sophomore forward continues to create many opportunities, setting up three of the Wave’s four goals against Ridgefield.


“We got great production once again from our first line. When they move the puck, it really opens up their skill, and they play fast and take good shots. Moore’s had a bunch of games with multiple assists, and Erickson and McDermott can put the puck in the net.” — Darien coach Mac Budd; @dstewartsports


RIDGEFIELD 0 2 1 - 3

DARIEN 2 2 0 - 4

First period: D - Sam Erickson (Jamison Moore) 0:12, D - Bennett McDermott (Moore) 14:50; Second period: D - Matt Fiorita (Max Sharp) 0:43; R - Michael Conciatore (Luke Welsh, Will Stewart) 6:35; D - McDermott (Erickson, Moore) 7:30; R - Conciatore (Stewart) 8:15; Third period: R - Welsh (Conciatore) 5:45.

Saves: R - Matt Silliman 26; D - Chris Schofield 17.

Records: Ridgefield 11-8-0 overall, 8-3-0 FCIAC; Darien 14-4-0, 9-1-0.