Cassidy’s Goal With 0.7 Seconds Left Lifts Darien To 1-1 Tie With New Canaan

Darien’s Kate Bellissimo tries to get control of the puck as New Canaan goalie Blythe Novick protects the net. (Mark Conrad)

DARIEN—The Darien girls hockey team had gone 89 minutes and 59 seconds without a goal in two games against arch-rival New Canaan this winter.

Blue Wave junior forward Colleen Cassidy made the last second of tonight’s second matchup count.

Cassidy scored with 0.7 seconds left in the third period, allowing the defending state champion Blue Wave to earn a 1-1 tie with the Rams in front of a near-capacity crowd at the Darien Ice Rink.

Darien’s Shea Van den Broek tries to get the puck by New Canaan goalie Blythe Novick. (Mark Conrad)

“It was a great game. We just got a bounce there at the end,” said Darien coach Jamie Tropsa, whose team had lost to the Rams, 3-0, earlier this season. “It was just a great high school hockey game. Hats off to New Canaan. They have a helluva team, a fast team, a talented team. We came to play a little more tonight than the first time we played them.”

The Blue Wave had pulled goalie Hallie Kreppein for the extra skater with under a minute to play.

The ploy worked as Darien was able to get the equalizer just in the nick of time.

Following a New Canaan timeout, the Rams’ Katelyn Sparks won the faceoff to teammate Meghan Kloud, who sent a pass behind the net to the other corner.

New Canaan’s Anika Curri moves the puck up ice. (Mark Conrad)

New Canaan was unable to clear the zone, however, and a shot by Darien’s blueliner went wide and into the corner, where Nelle Kniffin won a battle for the puck.

She threw it on goal where Cassidy was there to deflect it into the net to tie the game.

“Nelle was in the corner fighting for the pucket and she just popped it in front, and thank God my stick was on the ice,” Cassidy said. “I was able to get it across the goal line and I looked up and saw point-seven and was like, ‘Oh my God.’ ”

Added Kniffin, “We were putting on the pressure. We had the motivation and team energy and team spirit. Not every goal is pretty. We were trying to do our best, get it into the net and be the hero, and Colleen was able to achieve that for us.”

Darien’s Cate Droogan tries to clear the puck out from in front of her goal. (Mark Conrad)

The goal forced overtime, but both Kreppein (28 saves) and New Canaan goaltender Blythe Novick (17 saves) tossed up one final zero to preserve the tie.

“We just said let’s go get it back,” New Canaan coach Rich Bulan said. “We had been playing well all night, so I said let’s go. We did battle back, but just couldn’t get one in. Hallie had a great game for them. It’s better than losing. They’re still the defending state champs.”

After a scoreless first period, it was the Rams that took a 1-0 lead with 2:01 left in the second period when Courtney O’Connell scored off an assist from Anika Curri.

New Canaan’s Jessica Eccleston clears the puck out from behind her goal. (Mark Conrad)

Hard as the Rams tried to build upon that lead, though, Kreppein was a wall for the Blue Wave.

“I was nervous at first, but I have to remind myself it’s a game and I can do it,” Kreppein said. “If I let one in, I just have to keep going. I know we can get it back. I had a good feeling.”

Darien is now 9-3-1 while New Canaan moved to 11-1-1.

While the game might have ended in a stalemate, both coaches agreed there was an obvious winner.

“Girls hockey was the real winner tonight,” Tropsa said.

Darien goalie Hallie Kreppein makes a save.(Photo: Mark Conrad)

Bulan agreed.

“I told them at the end of the game that you have to be proud you were a part of this,” Bulan said. “Yeah, you’re going to be upset you gave up a goal with point-seven seconds left, but this was great for girls hockey. You’re going to be proud you were part of this.”

The two teams play a doubleheader back at the Darien Ice Rink on Monday as New Canaan hosts Ridgefield-Danbury (6 p.m.) and Darien entertains Stamford-Westhill-Staples (7:40 p.m.).

New Canaan’s Courtney O’Connell tries to control a puck in front of her goal. (Mark Conrad)

 

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