GameTimeCT Boys Ice Hockey Poll: No. 1 Notre Dame-West Haven faces No. 2 Darien Saturday

The votes were cast for the current GameTimeCT Boys Hockey Top 10, they were tabulated, and that confirmed the showdown was set for No. 1 vs. No. 2 this Saturday afternoon at Darien Ice House in a rematch of last winter’s Division I state championship game.

Defending state champion Notre Dame-West Haven and Darien have been ranked first and second, respectively, all season. And that is where they’ll still be ranked when the Green Knights make the 33-mile trip to Darien Ice House for a 4:20 p.m. faceoff against undefeated Darien (8-0-3).

Notre Dame-West Haven was the unanimous No. 1 choice as the recipient of all 11 first-place votes which accounted for 110 polling points.

Points are compiled on a 10-9-8-7-6-5-4-3-2-1 format – 10 points for a first-place ranking, nine for second place, etc. – from the seven media members and four coaches who voted.

Notre Dame-West Haven, undefeated against state opposition, improved to 9-1-1 with an 8-0 victory over host Notre Dame-Fairfield on Wednesday night (Jan. 25).

Darien leads a trio of teams from the FCIAC who are ranked among the top five. Coach Mac Budd’s Blue Wave got 96 polling points.

The Fairfield Warde/Ludlowe cooperative team from the FCIAC and Fairfield Prep (7-4) tied for No. 3 after receiving 78 points apiece, while No. 5 New Canaan was just six points behind them as that third FCIAC team among the top five.

Xavier (7-3-1), Simsbury (9-1-1), Northwest Catholic (6-3-2), and North Haven (10-0-0) are ranked 6-through-9. The records in parenthesis are what each team had in games played through Jan. 23. The poll was released Jan. 24.

Ridgefield did have a loss last week, but it happened to be a 3-2 overtime loss at home to second-ranked Darien, so the Tigers were ranked No. 10 again to give the FCIAC four teams in the Top 10.

The conference had five teams among the top 11 in polling points received as Greenwich got the 11th most polling points as one of only two teams in the “Also receiving votes” category.

Darien improved to 8-0-3 with a 3-1 home victory Jan. 23 over St. Joseph just before the voting took place for this current state poll.

The four other FCIAC teams who received polling points each played one game since the voting.

Greenwich’s Cardinals knocked Fairfield Warde/Ludlowe out of the unbeaten ranks with a 3-0 victory on their own Dorothy Hamill Rink, so they improved to 5-6 with their fifth victory in the last six games after an 0-5 start. The Fairfield cooperative team is now 9-1-1.

New Canaan lost at Fairfield Warde/Ludlowe, 3-1, last Saturday. The Rams rebounded with a 6-3 victory over host Westhill/Stamford on Wednesday night to improve to 8-2-1 overall.

Defending FCIAC champion Ridgefield improved to 5-7 with a 3-1 victory Tuesday at St. Joseph.

In addition to Darien’s big non-conference home game Saturday against ND-West Haven, there are 10 big games in the next few weeks involving the five FCIAC teams which have received points in the current poll playing against each other.

Darien has its next four conference games at home against the other four teams. The Blue Wave host Fairfield Warde/Ludlowe on Feb. 1, Greenwich on Feb. 8, New Canaan on Feb. 11 in a Saturday afternoon rematch of the Jan. 11 game when the two rivals played to a 3-3 tie, and Ridgefield on Feb. 15.

The other six big conference games in the next few weeks include Greenwich at New Canaan this Saturday, Ridgefield at Greenwich on Jan. 30, New Canaan at Ridgefield on Feb. 8, Fairfield Warde/Ludlowe at Ridgefield on Feb. 11, Warde/Ludlowe at New Canaan on Feb. 13, and Greenwich at Warde/Ludlowe in the Feb. 18 regular-season finale for both teams.

Saturday’s No. 1-vs.-No. 2 showdown at Darien will occur about 10 months after Notre Dame-West Haven rallied back from a 2-1 deficit after two periods and scored three unanswered goals in the third period to win the 2022 Connecticut Interscholastic Athletic Conference Division I Boys Hockey Tournament with a 4-2 victory over Darien on March 22.

Notre Dame-West Haven’s top-seeded Green Knights won all three of their games in the state tourney against FCIAC teams. They drew a bye into the quarterfinals, where they nipped eighth-seeded Ridgefield, 2-1. ND-West Haven advanced to the final with a 4-1 victory over fourth-seeded New Canaan on the same March 16 night that sixth-seeded Darien advanced with a 3-1 semifinal victory over second-seeded Xavier.

The 2023 FCIAC Boys Hockey Tournament begins Feb. 25, a Saturday, with the third-seeded team hosting the sixth-seeded team and the No. 4 seed hosting the No. 5 seed. The top two seeded teams draw first-round byes.

The No. 1 seed hosts the winner of the 4/5 game and the No. 2 seed hosts the 3/6 winner in the semifinals on March 1, a Wednesday. The FCIAC championship game is scheduled for the following Saturday, March 4, at Danbury Ice Arena at 4:30 p.m.

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