Darien Girls Ice Hockey Gets Revenge on Avon, Claims State Championship


Darien Girls Hockey

Darien celebrating as the 2023 Connecticut State Girls Ice Hockey champions inside the M&T Bank Arena

For the first time since 2018, the Darien Varsity Girls Ice Hockey Team are the queens of Connecticut. The 2023 Connecticut High School Girls Hockey Association State Champions!

A 5-3 victory over the Nighthawks of the Avon Co-op clinched Darien the title inside the M&T Bank Arena on the campus of Quinnipiac University.

This was the sixth consecutive state championship that the Wave has played in, Darien fell short in 2019 and 2021 to New Canaan, but finally, 2023 is the year of the Wave.

Off a faceoff win inside the Darien zone, sophomore Natalie Beach sent a shot on the net, Nighthawk goalie Sophia Ojala knocked it to her left but exposed most of the goal. Luckily for Darien, the senior captain Kelsey Brown was in perfect position for the rebound and shot one past Ojala into the back of the net for the first score on the night. Brown put Darien up top ten minutes in.

The Nighthawks came back firing as Bella Bonfiglio saw the puck past the blue line, surging on the offense. Bonfiglio centered the pass to a wide-open Emily Schneider faking out Kahn for the score. 1-1 with only a minute left before the intermission.

This goal came in an identical fashion as the regular season meeting between these two teams. Darien would score, and Avon would add it right back. That was a game in that Avon won 7-6 and handed Darien their sole loss of the season, fair to say Jaime Tropsa’s squad was looking for revenge in Hamden.

Entering the first intermission locker rooms it was a tie ball game one a piece.

Darien senior captain Kelsey Brown controlling the puck in the CT State Championship at M&T Bank Arena in Hamden (Dave Stewart)

Out the ice there was a ceremony held by the CHSGHA honoring the all-state awards. Darien senior Morgan Massey was named to the all-state 2nd team while sophomore Natalie Beach and senior Chelsea Donovan graced all-state first-team honors. Donovan also took home the CT Player of the Year award.

Avon came out of the locker room surging, three minutes into the period the Nighthawk leading scorer Nicole Partridge tried the wrap-around and scored through the five-hole of Kahn, this gave Avon their first lead of the night at 2-1.

Natalie Beach came streaking the other way and just minutes later, chipped a shot over the shoulder of Ojala tying the game right back up at two apiece. Goal number 28 for Beach on the season.

Gretchen Edwards got in on the offensive explosion off a face-off win, Edwards riffled a shot top right, and from the blue line beat Ojala in the back of the net building the Darien lead back up 3-2. A team effort for the Wave screening the net, and in a matter of five minutes Darien turned the tables and regained the lead.

Avon needed a spark plug and they got one when the senior from Southington High School, Emily Moskal used the post to poke a puck past Kahn and into the back of the net ten minutes into the 2nd period. The fourth goal scored combined in the second period, and the game was now tied 3-3, the back-and-forth battle continued.

Avon entered play at 21-0 on the season when the Nighthawks have scored three or more goals on the season, but Darien was up to the task to break the numbers.

On a short-handed opportunity for the Wave, Darien converted yet again. Down five players to four, the CT MVP Chelsea Donovan brought the puck into the zone and sent a shot off of Ojala, the deflection found the stick of Maggie Bellissimo with the flick of the wrist sending the puck past Ojala and into the net. Darien regained the lead 4-3 and capitalized on the player-down situation.

The Wave entered the second intermission controlling the 4-3 and sat just 15 minutes away from a state title.

The 2023 CHSGHA Championship game MVP Kelsey Brown holding up her award (Dave Stewart)

The third period was a back-and-forth battle until Darien’s Natalie Beach scored her second and clinching goal for the Wave ten minutes into the period. Darien 5, Avon 3.

The final buzzer rang, and the Darien Blue Wave stormed the ice and started the dog pile on their goalie Katherine Kahn, tears of joy for the 2022-23 Darien Girls Ice Hockey Team.

With seven seniors leading the charge, Darien finally was able to overcome the hump and pick up state championship number five.

“For these kids to finally get a state championship was really nice,” Darien Head Coach Jaime Tropsa said after the game.

Kelsey Brown was named the MVP of the championship game with her goal and effectiveness on the face-offs. Brown was among many Darien players filled with excitement about the state championship win.

Darien is the first and only CHSGHA state champion to be crowned inside the M&T Bank Arena, and Darien will have to wait until next December for some team to try and dethrone the new queens of CT High School Girls Ice Hockey.

The 2023 CT High School Girls Ice Hockey state champion Darien Blue Wave storming the Ice inside M&T Bank Arena (Dave Stewart)


No. 1 DARIEN 5,

No. 2 AVON CO-OP 3

Avon co-op 1 2 0 – 3

Darien 1 3 1 – 5

Avon co-op: Emily Schneider 1g; Nicole Partridge 1g; Emily Moskal 1g; Bella Bonfiglio 1a.

Darien: Natalie Beach 2g, 1a; Maggie Bellissimo 1g, 1a; Chelsea Donovan 2a; Kelsey Brown 1g; Gretchen Edwards 1g; Lila Fiorita 1a.

Goalies: A – Sophia Ojala 23 saves; D – Katherine Kahn 14 saves.