The Blue Hens had a tough task ahead of them as they faced off against an angry 12th Liberty. Liberty was coming off a two game series against 3rd Ohio University where they gave up 10 goals. Delaware was able to pressure Liberty, amassing 44 shots total in the game, but Liberty goalie Matt Pinel was able to preserve his undefeated streak and get the 3-1 win.
The Blue Hens did manage to get the first goal. “It was a 2 on 2 and Santucci made a good play going out wide,” said Blue Hen forward Michael Conte on the goal. “The puck managed to find its way onto my stick, but it landed a little bit awkward. I was able to go from my forehand and pull it around a defenseman on my backhand. I just squeaked it in but I mean it was good enough.” Conte was able to score his 5th goal of the season to make the game 1-0 in the first period.
Liberty would respond with less than a minute in the first. Liberty defender Steven Bellew managed to get around the defense and into the Blue Hens zone. He went behind the net and scored to make the game 1-1 heading into the first intermission.
The Blue Hens came out flying in the beginning of the second period. In particular, the line of Leo Skehan, John Redgate and Vinny Zingarelli had a couple of huge shifts to start the period. The Blue Hens were seemingly about to ride their momentum to a lead, as they were the team with all the momentum.
Their momentum halted, however, when a penalty was called against them. On the power play, Liberty freshman defender Ben Hughes fired a shot from the blue line. Forward Grant Garvin managed to deflect the goal in to make the score 2-1.
The third period was the same story for the Blue Hens. They got good runs with even strength, but costly penalties zapped their momentum away from them. Michael Conte really thought this hurt the Blue Hens chances. “We would have a couple good chances in the offensive zone, but then when we ended up in the defensive zone the whistle would blow and we would be on the penalty kill again. It really kind of pulled the carpet from underneath us.”
The Blue Hens got a few more good chances in the final moments of the game. They could just not get through Liberty goalie Matt Pinel, who is still undefeated for the year. Liberty’s graduate defender Matt Sherry scored the empty netter to make the final score 3-1 Liberty.
Dylan Troiano continues to look strong in net for the Blue Hens. He now has a 2.28 GAA for the season, which is up there with the best in the ESCHL. He is also third in the ESCHL in shutouts, with two for the season.
The Blue Hens will look for revenge Saturday January 31st against Liberty. That game is expected to start at 5:15 PM.
By: Tyler Fitzpatrick