Senior Matt Gumina had known he wanted to be a part of Delaware’s hockey program long before he ever got to the division 1 team. He had been following the team since he was in high school, and even though the path to the division 1 team was difficult for him, it did not stop him from reaching this goal.
Gumina has been skating for as long as he can remember. “I started skating when I was about four years old. I have an older brother and my dad used to take us out to play roller hockey or just shoot pucks in the garage or go to the local rink and go to public skating.” He also said he had a small rivalry with his brother, which helped motivate him through his early years.
Matt eventually proved himself as a hockey player and knew that he wanted to play in college. He had been looking around for schools, and feel in love with University of Delaware. “First off, I wanted to go to a real good academic school, and Delaware’s one of them,” said Matt when asked what he liked about Delaware. “It’s a great school fun wise, and it’s got such a great hockey program. There’s no real negative thing about this school.”
However, he knew making the division 1 team would be difficult. “When I was a senior in high school, I would follow the Delaware team. I knew they were really good; they had actually gone to the final four that year. I remember looking at their roster and they had a bunch of juniors and sophomores that were leading the team in points. I knew coming in, it was going to be tough to make that team. But when Jesse McNulty, our old assistant coach, emailed me and told me there would be a division 2 team, so that was going to be my safety net. “
So even though he was unable to make the team his freshman year, he made his time on the division 2 team a positive experience. “I think it actually helped me my freshman year,” said Gumina on his time with the division 2 team. “It boosts your confidence when you’re able to find the back of the net more in the division 2 level and are playing those power play minutes.”
He was able to make the jump to the division 1 team his junior year. He was able to prove himself as a trustworthy two way forward that could be counted on in any situation. He played in 28 of the team’s games that year and competed in the ESCHL and the ACHA tournaments.
The tournament that year was of course in the Fred Rust arena, and in front of the Blue Hen’s hometown fans. Matt called the experience the best in his hockey career. He called the atmosphere in the arena “insane. I just remember before the game being in the locker room and it was like an earthquake was going on in that rink. The fans were on top of our locker room and the whole place was just shaking. I remember that new blue Delaware thing on top of us when we went out and you couldn’t really see the fans until you actually went under it and it was just absolutely packed. The whole place was yelling and screaming. I remember when Mark Zeszut tied it late, I couldn’t describe the emotion in that moment it was awesome.”
Matt now sees himself and the other seniors as important leaders for this young team. While there are young guys who are able to put up the points, the senior leaders can still teach the younger players some of the little things that a team needs to win. “We have some young guys leading the way in points, but I’m trying to lead the way by doing the little things that we need to come together to win a hockey game. Whether it be getting a puck out, getting a puck in, making a smart pass or working on the penalty kill.”
When it came to question of who was the Blue Hens biggest rival, Matt was quick to say Rhode Island. “We had a nice fight with them last year and we won five games against them. They hate us and we hate them. Hopefully we can see them in the playoffs and we can beat them up again.”
By: Tyler Fitzpatrick