Liberty Weekend Recap

Written By: Analisa Vizzoni

The Hens hit the road this past weekend, and played Liberty University Friday and Saturday night at the LaHaye Ice Rink. Friday night the puck dropped at midnight for Liberty’s Midnight Mayhem game, and resulted in a loss for the Blue Hens. Saturday night the puck dropped at 7:00 p.m., and UD took the W!

The LaHaye Ice Rink had a huge crowd out for their Midnight Mayhem game, and at the drop of the puck the fans were loud. The period started off slow and with quite a bit of roughness on the ice. With about 11 minutes left in the period, the Liberty Flames scored their first official goal of the night. There was a lot of movement on the ice, and Delaware struggled to put the puck in the back of the net. The Flames scored again with 5 minutes and 31 seconds left on the clock. Possession continuously changed, and with 34 seconds left, Liberty scored their third goal of the night. At the end of the first 20 minutes, shots on goal were 15-8 in favor of LU.

With the second period underway, the Blue Hens needed a comeback. This was a period full of roughness, and there were quite a few fights that broke out on the ice. There was a Delaware goal that was taken back due to a high stick. UD came out in an offensive mindset this period. With just under 2 minutes on the clock, a fight broke out, and a player from both teams was sent to their respective penalty box. At the end of the period, the score was still 3-0, but shots on goal favored UD 22-18.

Delaware came into the third period ready to put up their last fight for the night. The Flames came out strong on offense, and the Hens’ defense and goalie, Dylan Troiano, played a great game. Within two minutes, Dylan saved a flurry of shots on goal. With 4 minutes and 18 seconds left on the clock, the Blue Hens finally put a point on the board with a scored by Cole Zucker! Just after the goal, Delaware had a player in the box, but they were successful on the penalty kill. 1 minute and 32 seconds left in the game, Justin Hoch passed the puck off to Dan Going to score the second UD goal of the night! The Hens pulled the goalie in an effort to gain an upper hand on offense for the last minute of play. At the sound of the buzzer to end the period, the score was 3-2 Liberty University.

After the game, I caught up with Cole Zucker to talk strategy for Saturday’s game. He said, “We need to bring the energy we had in the second and third for a full 60 minutes. If we keep possessing the puck and getting more shots, we will have success. We also need to clean up the D-zone coverage.” Earlier in the season, when I was given the chance to interview Matt Santucci and Max Freeman for a preseason outlook, they said that Liberty was going to be tough because the rookies would need to adjust to the big rink and excited crowd. Cole touched on that, and said, “It’s also a tough building to play in because of the rowdy fans, but once the game starts and we focus on hockey, it is easy to block out the fans.”

Saturday night, as soon as the puck hit the ice, Delaware was ready to play an intense game. The Hens controlled possession of the puck for the first few minutes of the period. There was a lot of movement up and down the ice from both teams, and with 15 minutes and 3 seconds on the clock, Liberty scored the first goal of the night. UD had two penalties in the first period, a major and a minor, and were successful on both penalty kills. Exactly a minute left in the period, Delaware’s John Redgate scored a beautiful backhand goal to tie up the game! At the end of the first 20 minutes, shots on goal favored the Hens 16-13.

The second period nearly mimicked the night before. There was a lot of roughness on the ice and penalties from both teams. Delaware was successful on their penalty kills. With a Liberty player in the box, Cole Zucker scored off an assist from John Redgate with a minute and 52 seconds left on the clock to put the Hens up by one! A fight broke out on the ice, putting two Liberty players and a Blue Hen in their respective boxes. At the end of the period, the score of the game was 2-1 UD, but the shots on goal favored Liberty 23-20. With an injury to Senior Nick Ustaski and game misconduct to Senior Alex Guerere, the young blue hen defense core held their own against the Liberty offense. Freshmen Michael Zidansek, Ian Anderson, Justin Hoch, and Cameron Bregenzer did an excellent job preserving the lead.

With the third period underway, the Flames tried to make a comeback, and the Hens tried to keep their momentum going to keep their lead. UD was successful on their penalty kills again this period. Liberty came in hot on offense, and once again, our defense and goalie held down the fort. With 4 minutes and 1 second on the clock, Dan Going scored his second goal for the weekend off an assist from Vinny Zingarelli! Possession of the puck constantly changed throughout the rest of the period. With a minute and 26 seconds left on the clock, Liberty scored. The Flames took out their goalie, and Cole Zucker scored again with nothing but net with 47.1 seconds left in the period! The Blue Hens won the game 4-2, splitting the weekend series!

Coming off a high from the game, I was able to talk to Dan Going. I asked him what went right Saturday night, and how they were going to prepare for LVC next weekend. He said, “We battled through some adversity and a high intensity atmosphere, and stuck together as a team and compiled some good minutes of hockey. We have been a pretty solid third period team all season and we showed that again tonight. LVC is a good team, but we know what we have to do to take those guys out. Continue to chase pucks, play tough, and shoot the puck on the net a few times.”

The team will be back home to play LVC on Friday, November 20th at 7:00 p.m. at the Fred Rust Arena! It will be our Food Bank and Movember promotion night. We encourage all fans to bring nonperishable food items to the game, and you if bring five or more items, you will get free admission! The food bank has expressed a need for canned vegetables and fruit, tuna, soup, and canned tomatoes. The team has also created a Movember page, so be sure to visit and search University of Delaware Men’s Ice Hockey Team to donate to our cause! Also, be sure to get tickets for the University of Delaware vs. Drexel game on November 23rd at 1:00 p.m. at the Wells Fargo Center. The tickets are $55, and can be purchased at our home games, in the Booster Club tab on our website, or tables in Trabant throughout the next week. We hope to see you Friday night for the last home game of the semester!