It was a tough weekend here in Newark, Delaware. The University of Delaware D1 Men’s Hockey Team took on long-time rival Liberty University for a weekend series. While the outcome was undesired, the Blue Hens demonstrated that they are capable of facing anyone on the ice and that they are not a team to be overlooked.
Friday night’s game was the home opener at the Fred Rust Ice Arena. The starting lineup consisted of forwards #22 Michael Nisky, #13 Chris Mazzella, #19 Jakob Defares, and defensemen #24 Mike Zidansek and #6 Harrison Chuma. Senior #30 Stephen East was in net. Right from the 7pm puck drop, the teams were off to the races trying to cash in on scoring opportunities. The first period was a volley, with Delaware making great passes but struggling to get anything in the net. The first period ended tied at zero, raising the stakes in period 2. The teams found a definite challenge in one another, fighting for possession all throughout the period with high energy. #16 Kevin Felice was able to take advantage of assists from #9 Greg Jandoli and #26 Brian Ostrander to put one in the Liberty goal with 3 minutes left in the period.
In the third period, Delaware was leading 1-0, but still struggled to maintain the lead. Shortly after 8 minutes into the period, Liberty scored two back to back goals minutes of each other, not only tying the game but jumping ahead in the lead 2-1. Delaware was unable to catch up with the remaining minutes, losing to Liberty 2-1. Rookie forward #37 Gavin Hulser gave his thoughts on the game stating, “We came together and played well, we just need to take advantage of more of our opportunities, but we recognize we can play with anyone and will do great things this year.”
Saturday’s game started at 3:45pm with the same starting line-up as the night before with #1 Chris Ponticello in goal. The game started slow, and Delaware was challenged to defend the net while trying to successfully play the puck past Liberty. Early into the first period, Liberty was able to take advantage of a power play, putting one on the board, followed by a second before the end of the period.
In the second period, Chris Mazzella was able to cut the Liberty lead, assisted by #19 Jake Defares and #22 Mike Nisky, with a goal scored 5 minutes and 33 seconds in. The second period ended with Liberty leading 2-1.
In the third period, Delaware fought to tie the score, with Ponti making some incredible saves against Liberty. At 10:33 in the third, Liberty scored another goal, increasing their lead 3-1. Mazzella caught up on their lead with his second goal of the night, assisted by Defares and Nisky. The Blue Hens couldn’t tie the score in time, losing game two to Liberty, 3-2. #8 Cam Piorkowski shared his thoughts on the game, “We had trouble finishing our chances and had a few defensive breakdowns. We played well and felt we carried large portions of the game against the defending league champs, so we are hoping to carry our effort level to our next weekend series.”
Come see the Blue Hens take on Navy on October 20 at the Fred Rust Arena where they will also be supporting the Open Net Foundation for Teen Mental Health.
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Written by: Daniella Fioretti