FCIAC

FCIAC ice hockey sweeps state titles; Darien ends as top-ranked team

The FCIAC had strong showings CIAC boys’ ice hockey playoffs, winning all three tournament championships, led by Darien defending its state champion in Division I, which features the best teams in the state.

The Fairfield Warde/Ludlowe cooperative program won the Division II tournament. The Westhill and Stamford teams combined this year to form the Westhill/Stamford cooperative program and emerged as the Division III state champion after winning a 5-4 thriller over Staples/Weston/Shelton in a final involving two FCIAC teams.

The FCIAC had a combined 17-7 record for a .708 winning percentage in all three divisions.

Jay Dickson scored a pair of goals within a span of 1:53 early in the second period to stake Darien to a 4-1 lead and first-year coach Mac Budd’s third-seeded Blue Wave cruised in for a 4-2 victory ninth-seeded Fairfield Prep in the Division I final on March 19 at Yale University’s Ingalls Rink.

Darien has won two state championships with two different head coaches that last two years. The Blue Wave defeated Greenwich, 1-0, in last year’s final under the guidance of previous coach Chris Gerwig. Darien has a combined 13-2 record in the last four Division I state tournaments, having advanced to the semifinals in 2013 and then suffering a 2-1 overtime loss to Fairfield Prep two years ago.

The FCIAC had a combined 6-4 record in the Division I tournament, with three of those losses coming against fellow conference schools. Fifth-seeded Greenwich and 11th-seeded St. Joseph each won one game while 12th-seeded Ridgefield and 14th-seeded New Canaan were eliminated in the first round.

Jake Fuss netted the sudden-victory goal 1:22 into overtime on an assist from Owen Emmendorfer to give second-seeded Fairfield Warde/Ludlowe a 4-3 overtime victory over top-seeded North Branford in the Division II championship game. Jack McCormick scored twice for the champions. The FCIAC had a combined 4-1 record in the Division II tourney as 14th-seeded Trumbull lost in the first round.

The FCIAC had just two teams in opposite brackets in the Division III tournament and they both advanced to the championship game. The fifth-seeded Westhill/Stamford program had a 4-0 record and third-seeded Staples/Weston/Shelton was 3-1.

Chris Clemmenson had two goals and an assist while Nick Rich also scored twice for Westhill/Stamford while Samuel New had a pair of goals for Staples/Weston/Shelton in the championship game. Norwalk/McMahon lost in the first round after qualifying for postseason play for the first time in a long time so the conference had a 7-2 record in the Division III tourney.

The FCIAC also had four teams ranked among the top nine in the final 2015-16 GameTimeCT Top 10 Hockey Polls.

Darien was ranked first and followed by Fairfield Prep, Xavier and Notre Dame-West Haven.

Greenwich was fifth as the second highest conference team and followed by Simsbury, then FCIAC teams Fairfield Warde/Ludlowe and St. Joseph. Notre Dame-Fairfield completed the top 10.

Also from the FCIAC, Ridgefield received the 11th most points and Westhill/Stamford the 13th most points as two of the five teams in the “Others receiving votes” category.

The Darien boys ice hockey team won its second straight state championship and finished as the top-ranked team in the final state poll. — Darien Athletic Foundation photo