After five match ups with their ESCHL divisional rivals, the Blue Hens will finally get the chance to play someone outside their division. They will have their hands full, as both of their games are against 12th ranked Liberty.
These games come at a crucial time for the Blue Hens, as they are battling for a spot in the ACHA national championship. There are 16 teams in the ACHA tournament, but just being ranked a top 16 team does not ensure you a spot. There are other automatic qualifiers who can get in even if they are not ranked in the top 16.
Therefore, Delaware could be ranked 15th or even 14th and not get in to the ACHA tournament. Every game is important for them because they do not know what ranking they will need to get in.
Blue Hen winger Vinny Zingarelli, who has 8 goals and 13 points this year, said that this late into the season, every game is almost a must win. Vinny also pointed out the fact that beating a team like Liberty would be a big help for the Blue Hens in the rankings. “They are very high up in the rankings. If we can get a couple wins against them it would definitely look good in the polls and will allow us to move up in the rankings.”
Liberty is coming off a couple losses against Ohio University. Top 5 Ohio scored 10 goals in the two games and showed that they deserve their high ranking.
Liberty has some players that can post some incredible stats. Luke Hannon has 32 goals and 5 game winners in 28 games. Hannon also averages 2.32 points a game for Liberty. Lindsay LeBlanc is another one of the many players posting fantastic numbers for Liberty. He has 15 goals and 55 points in 28 games.
The other option the Blue Hens have for getting into the ACHA tournament is winning the ESCHL playoff. They only have 7 games left, but 5 of those are against ESCHL opponents.
Vinny said that both ways in would require a lot of work. “ESCHL is a tough division. Obviously you have Stony Brook, one of the best teams in the east. Not to look ahead, but next weekend we also have to face Rhode Island who are high up in the rankings.”
Last time the Blue Hens faced Rhode Island, they managed to split the series. They are currently 12 points behind first place Rhode Island in the ESCHL standings and 10 points behind second place Stony Brook.
The schedule for this weekend is as follows:
Fri Jan 30-vs Liberty @ 9:15
Sat Jan 31-vs Liberty @ 5:15
By: Tyler Fitzpatrick