Last weekend, the Hens had their final set of games during the best time of year, playoff hockey. It was the league playoffs, and the Hens made it to the semi-finals before falling to Liberty.
On Friday afternoon, Delaware took the ice at the IceLine Arena for a game against Rutgers. Puck drop was at 3 pm, and the starting line for Hens was #28 Cole Zucker, #13 Chris Mazzella, #14 Dustin Rabinowitz, #6 Harrison Chuma, #37 Jack Zimmer, and in the net was #1 Chris Ponticello. The stakes were high for this game, so the boys came out with high intensity. Rutgers scored the first goal of the game about five minutes in. Delaware needed to react quick. A little over halfway through the period, Brian Ostrander but the Hens back in the game by tying it up off a feed from Pierce Lamberton and Kevin Felice. Just before the end of the period, Jack Zimmer put the boys in the lead off an assist from Dustin Rabinowitz and Cole Zucker.
Going into the second period with a one goal lead, the team was comfortable but they could always score more goals. The Hens extended their lead by two during the second period. Lamberton scored off an assist from Colin Emerich and Harrison Chuma. The next goal was scored by Ostrander, his second of the night, off a pass from Harrison Good and Emerich. Delaware came out of the second on top, the score was 4-1. The puck dropped for the third period. After two assists in the game, Colin Emerich scored a goal of his own off an assist from Lamberton and Felice. The sixth Blue Hen goal of the night was slid in the net by Chris Mazzella, and assisted by Felice and Lamberton. With a hefty lead, the Hens were in a good spot to move on to the next round. The Ice Knights scored a goal with a few minutes left to go in the game. However, Delaware responded with a goal scored by Jack Zimmer off an assist from Michael Nisky. The final score was 7-2, and the Hens were moving on to the next round to play Liberty!
Colin Emerich shared his thoughts on the game, saying, “I think we really had a great team effort tonight, a lot of guys contributed. We took advantage of opportunities, and outworked them all over the ice. The last couple weeks we really grew as a team, and have been playing better hockey. Going into playing Liberty, we are confident about our game. We gave them good games earlier in the year, but couldn’t close. We were up 4-1 on them in the last game we played at our rink, but getting penalties cost us.”
The game against Liberty was set for 4:45 on Saturday. The starting lineup was #26 Brian Ostrander, #28 Cole Zucker, #13 Chris Mazzella on the forward line, and the defensemen and goalie remained the same. The puck dropped, and the game was underway. The Hens came out strong, and matched the Flames’ pace. Six minutes into the game, Delaware took the lead with a goal scored by captain, Cole Zucker! The assist on the goal was from Rabinowitz. Liberty responded with a goal a few minutes later and tied up the game. With an even score, both teams were hungry to take the lead. Colin Emerich put the puck past the Flames’ goalie, and the Hens were in the lead! Kevin Felice was awarded with the assist on that goal. The period ended, with the Blue Hens ahead by one. In the second period, the score stayed the same.
With the final twenty minutes of play about to start, tension was high on the ice. Liberty scored about five minutes into the period, and the game was tied. Once again, both teams were eager to take the lead so they can move on to the finals. Both teams played an even game. Liberty took the lead with just over five minutes to go in the game. Delaware was ready to put up one last fight. In an attempt to get the man advantage, the Hens pulled their goalie. The Flames scored an empty net goal, and the final score was 4-2, Liberty.
Harrison Chuma said, “We went into this game with the mindset that we owed Liberty a win. Since we knew they were going to come out with intensity, we tried to set the pace. I think that we played maybe one of the best games of the season, we just didn’t get the bounces we needed, and that’s why we lost.” Kevin Felice added, “Going into Liberty, I knew we had a task in front of us, but it was nothing we couldn’t handle. We had to just try to skate 5 on 5, and we could take them. We played a great first two periods, but when it came to the 3rd we played too defensive. Instead of attacking we took our foot off the gas, and tried to just play D, which against such an offensive team like Liberty, turned back to bite us.”
The season came to a close after a hard fought game against the Flames. Chris Mazzella said of the last game and season, “We played really well, but came up a bit short. We gave Liberty our all and left everything out there. Obviously, it was not the way we wanted to end the year, and we came up short of our goal of reaching Nationals, but it was still a successful season. It was tough knowing it was our last game as a group because we’ve been through a lot with these seniors, and they meant a lot to all of us.”
The Hens racked up a total of 21 wins this season, some of which came from teams like Stony Brook and URI. After a long season of highs and lows, overall it was an exciting one. As the team looks forward to the next season, they would like to wish their seniors good luck with graduation and life after! The team as a whole would like to thank all their fans, families and friends for all their support this season.
Facebook: University of Delaware Men’s Division 1 Ice Hockey
Written By: Analisa Vizzoni