RIDGEFIELD, Conn. – As Chris Morrow emerged as a leader this winter for the Ridgefield High School ice hockey team, the Tigers responded with a 10-game winning streak that catapulted them squarely into contention to repeat as Fairfield County Interscholastic Athletic Conference champions.
Morrow, a senior, was selected The Ridgefield Daily Voice Athlete of the Month. The Tigers entered the week 13-3 overall and 8-0 in the league. They won their first league title in five years last winter but graduated many players from that squad. Morrow and the other seniors made sure the team’s level of play did not drop off.
“I think at first there was a lot more pressure,’’ Morrow said. “We lost our top five or six players, and we needed to step up. We came out this season, and we're playing just as well as we did last season. The pressure has been taken off since we started winning.”
Morrow, a senior co-captain, has seven goals and seven assists for the well-balanced Tigers. He scored a pair of goals in wins over Trinity Catholic and South Windsor. In last year’s league playoffs, he had a goal in the semifinals and finals.
“What I like most about Chris is his blue-collar personality,’’ coach Shaun Gallagher said. “Everything about him resembles hard work. That’s probably his best attribute. Very seldom will someone outwork him.”
Morrow said he loves the pressure of big games. Ridgefield should see a lot of them next month, as the Tigers prepare for the league and state tournaments.
"Playing against good teams is always fun,’’ he said. “They’re always good physical games. In games like that, you want to make the most of your scoring opportunities. If you get a shot on net, you want to bury it because you know you’re not going to get too many.”
Morrow has improved since last season, Gallagher said. “He’s doing what he did last year, but he’s doing it more effectively,’’ he said of Morrow. “He doesn’t stop moving his feet. Add in his leadership responsibilities, and it’s all come together. When you get a player like Chris who works just so hard on his game, it’s great to see.”
Ridgefield’s depth is important heading into the final month. Entering this week, sophomore Liam Smith leads the team with nine goals, but Morrow and Cam McGuire have seven apiece. Eighteen players have scored goals.
“I learned the hard way that if you have to rely on one or two guys, that puts a lot of pressure on them,’’ Gallagher said. “If we didn’t have a great night for one or two guys, we had trouble. We committed to try to get everyone involved. You never know who will step up that night or month or year.”
The team’s goal is to recapture the league championship and make a good run in the state tournament. “The high school experience has been everything I expected,’’ Morrow said. “We’ve had good teams over the last few years and winning the FCIACs was huge.”
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