This past weekend, the team made their way up to the Falls to play in the Buffalo Meltdown Tournament. They went 2-1 for the weekend, and played some teams they’ve never played before.
Friday night the Hens matched up against the Mercyhurst University Lakers. Starting line for the game was Cole Zucker, Michael Redgate, and Brian Ostrander on the forward line, Harrison Good and Mike Zidansek on defense, and Stephen East between the pipes. Shortly into the first period, Ian Anderson started off the scoring for Delaware with a goal assisted by Zucker. Mercyhurst retaliated within a few minutes to tie the game. The Hens held their ground and continued to create opportunities in front of the Lakers’ net. Period ended with a tied score. Going into the second, East held strong in goal and made some great saves. Things got a bit scrappy on the ice, and a few penalties were called on both teams throughout the second. With four minutes to go in the period, Zidansek found the back of the net off a pass from Michael Nisky and Good. Period ended with the Blue Hens in the lead. Off the whistle in the third, Mercyhurst tied up the game. They then proceeded to take the lead, making the score 3-2. On the powerplay, the Hens brought themselves back in this game with a goal from Zucker off an assist from Zidansek and Nisky. The period went on with the tied score, and the game went into OT. There was a sense of familiarity to the game two years ago at the National Tournament, when Nisky scored the game winner off a pass from Zucker! The game ended 4-3, Blue Hens. Zucker said of the OT game, “It was a new experience for our team. We dominated most of the game, and then found ourselves tied at the end of the third, just like nationals 2 years ago. However, this time it was 3-3, so we knew there would be a lot of open ice and chances. We were confident in the group Coach Donahue threw out there to start. It only took under a minute into overtime to get it done, and get the win.”
Saturday afternoon puck dropped at 4:00 and taking the ice to start was Andrew Corapi, Greg Jandoli, Dustin Rabinowitz, Devin Jenny, Jack Zimmer, and Chris Ponticello serving as goalie. The Hens came out strong in the first period scoring three goals, and not letting one in their net. Shane Mullin started the scoring off for the team with an assist from Nisky and Chris Mazzella. A few minutes later, Mazzella put one past the University of Buffalo’s goalie off a pass from Anderson. The Blue Hens stayed on their toes and continued to put up a good fight. With a few minutes left to go in the third, Kevin Felice scored a beautiful backhanded goal in the top corner of the net, unassisted. The period ended with the boys up by 3. In the second period, the UB Bulls knew they needed to start to make a comeback, and put on between the pipes. Nisky extended the Hens’ scoring off an assist from Zucker on the powerplay. The Bulls retaliated quick and buried another goal away, making the score of the game 4-2, which is how it stayed until the start of the third period. In the last twenty minutes of play, the Hens could not keep a hold on their lead. Buffalo scored 4 more goals, and took the W, 6-4. Nisky said, “We just fell apart too late. We took penalties, and they capitalized on that.”
At 11:00 on Sunday morning, the final game of the tournament rolled around. Starting lines were Nisky, Mazzella, and Redgate on the forward line, Zidansek and Andrew Marciniak on defense, and East back in the net. Testing the waters against a new team, the first period was a bit slow. Illinois State was able to sneak one past the goalie with just under 3 minutes to go in the period, and came out with a lead. Shortly into the second, the Hens went on the penalty kill. But, even man down, Felice was able to capitalize on an opportunity in front of the Redbirds’ net off an assist from Zimmer and Jenny. The game became chippy very quick. A little less than the halfway mark for the period, Zidansek put the Hens in the lead off an assist from Nisky and Marciniak. In the remainder of the second, both teams had a handful of penalties called, and at the sound of the whistle the score was 2-1. Going into the final 20 minutes of play, the boys were determined to play to the final whistle. Mazzella scored two back to back goals extending the Hens’ lead. The first goal was assisted by Nisky and the second was assisted by Zimmer and Jenny. Illinois capitalized on a power play opportunity, and made the score 4-2. East made some notable saves to keep the team in the game. To make the long bus ride home a bit more bearable, the Hens scored three more goals before the end of the game. The fifth goal of the day was scored by Kevin Felice off an assist from Nisky. Colin Emerich joined the club, and to top it off with one second left on the clock, Ethan Docking was able to walk one in off an assist from Mazzella. Freshman defenseman, Marciniak said, “It was a must win after Saturday’s loss. We came out hard, and so did Illinois State. The boys just maintained pressure and getting offensive opportunities until one went in. And when one went in more goals followed, resulting in a good win to end the weekend in Buffalo.”
After the weekend, Kevin Felice said, “We went in expecting a better result. Mercyhurst was too close of a game for my liking, but we came out with W after a well fought three periods and an awesome OT goal by Nisky. We went up early against Buffalo, and just hung our heads too high. That gave them the chance to come back. We figured it out, and started gelling against Illinois State. We walked away 2-1, and we’re going to bring this momentum into a big weekend against Liberty.”
The Hens are on the road yet again to play Liberty University in Virginia on 11/10 and 11/11. Greg Jandoli, “Liberty is a good team. We have finally found our identity as a team, and with a hard work ethic in practice this week, the team will be ready to go into the weekend. We are looking to come away with a few points.” On Friday night, the game will be aired on ESPN3 at 7:00. The game will be livestreamed on Saturday night at 7:00 through Liberty’s network, keep an eye out for the link.
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Written By: Analisa Vizzoni