Fighting Blue Hen Ice Hockey has come to an end for the 2015-2016 season, and they made incredible progress from start the beginning of the year. The team started ranked 17 in the ACHA, went to an unranked status, and ended being #14 having earned themselves a spot in the National tournament. I sat down with two underclassmen on the team Dylan Troiano and Pierce Lamberton, who took the time to talk to me about the season from start to finish.
Way back in September the team found themselves with a new head coach and quite a few newbies to the Rust. After a hard working summer and much work done by the team’s leadership core, Coach Giantonio arrived to campus to guide his new team. After a few weeks of practice and off-ice workouts, the team opened up the season. The team started the beginning of the season was full of weekend splits, and trying to work out some kinks in the lines. Dylan pointed out one of the low points of the season was the first Rutgers weekend when the team got swept by the Ice Knights, he said “the lines weren’t really in tact.” But as the season went on, everything started to click.
In November, the team was given the special opportunity to match up against Drexel University at the home of the Philadelphia Flyers, the Wells Fargo Center. The team beat the Dragons 3-1, and stayed to watch the Flyers play the North Carolina Hurricanes.
Everything was starting to workout for the Blue Hens, and when the team came back from winter break in January, there was no stopping them. Dylan and Pierce both noted that the winter session was the high point of the season. The team swept rivals, URI and Liberty, which was really exciting for the team. This was the long haul of the season, the final push before Nationals. The team needed to keep morale high. Pierce said that Dylan really contributed to keeping the morale high because “you can’t win games without good goaltending” so that really helped them when they weren’t playing at their best. Dylan added that “Leo was a great captain” and he was definitely a part of the team’s success in keeping up the energy.
At the ESCHL playoffs, the team faced West Chester in the first round and won 3-1. In the second round, the team played LVC, and suffered an overtime loss. When the team headed to Chicago, their first game was against the #19 Mercyhurst Lakers. The teams went into double overtime, and the Blue Hens came out victorious. The following day, they faced the #3 Lindenwood Lions. They had a rough start and a couple of questionable calls made against them, and lost the game by a 3 point deficit.
With the ups and downs throughout the season, the team stayed strong and kept battling through. They were there for each other when times got rough, and made great memories as the months progressed. Every single player came out of this season a better player than when they walked in. Pierce added that one of the players he saw the most improvement in was Stephen East. He said, “As a team we definitely all grew at some point or another, but one of the guys that stands out the most to me is Stephen East, one of our back up goalies. Obviously he didn’t play in the games as much, but just seeing him in practice and everything, he seemed to just get a lot better as the year went on. So it was good to see him develop.” One of the most memorable moments of the season for both Dylan and Pierce was the Midnight Mayhem game at Liberty University. Dylan described it as “unbelieveable.”
With the end of the school year coming up as well, the team will lose a handful of players to graduation. It will definitely be weird to go on without this great group of guys next season, and they will be missed. Dylan said that there are so many characters in that group, and “having them around everyday is what I’ll miss the most.” Pierce said that they were the guys who showed them the way, “but at the same time it will be cool having guys like Dylan be the older guys and being able to look up to them.”
With these two guys being key returning players for next season, and know what needs to be done to have a successful team. As the goalie, Dylan sees everything that happens on the ice, and some of the things that he feels the team needs to work on are “cleaning up the defensive zone… and generating more scoring opportunities.” Being sent to the box, somewhere Pierce was not a stranger to, is something that he thinks the team needs to work on for next season. “The top teams below us had not that many penalty minutes, and when it came down to us we had an unreal amount. So you never know, one penalty can change the game,” Pierce noted.
That’s a quick summary for this season, but these guys have already set goals to make it back to Nationals next year and make a better run at the League Championship. The team wants to wish all the seniors good luck in all of their future endeavors, and they are excited to see where next season takes them! For offseason updates, as always, keep up with @UDHockey on Twitter, and follow our Facebook page, University of Delaware Division 1 Men’s Ice Hockey! The team will also be reviving its Instagram account next season, more information to come in the near future.
And lastly fans and alumni for those who have not signed up for the UD Hockey Annual Golf Outing on April 23rd please do so quickly as spots are filling up quickly.
Written By: Analisa Vizzoni and Tyler Fitzpatrick