With rival third ranked Stony Brook on the horizon, one could’ve thought that the games against Lebanon Valley were trap games. Lebanon Valley were ranked 23rd and were a formidable opponent themselves. The Blue Hens, who are ranked 13th, were able to handle their business, winning both games by a combined score of 5-0.
Only 33 seconds into the Friday game, the Blue Hens struck first. Star defenseman John Brancaccio passed to Freshman Cole Zucker, who was able to bury the goal to give the Blue Hens the early lead.
About eight minutes into the first, Lebanon Valley went down two men, thanks to a clipping minor on Cody Pessig. Cole Zucker took advantage of the opportunity and scored his second goal of the first period.
In the second period, the Blue Hens goalie Dylan Troiano faced nine shots from the Lebanon Valley offense. He stopped all nine of Lebanon Valley shots to keep the game 2-0 heading into the second intermission. Troiano has been fighting with Patrick Rochefort and Noble Tucker just to get in between the pipes for the Blue Hens.
12:51 into the third period, Cole Zucker scored his third goal and finished off the hat trick. He leads the Blue Hens with nine goals this season, despite being a freshman.
Dylan Troiano faced 15 shots in the third period, but again stopped them all. The sophomore finally got the first shutout of the season for the Blue Hens.
Leo Skehan was able to score his second goal of the season to defeat the Flying Dutchmen. The final score ended up being 4-0 and the Blue Hens survived their first trap game with flying colors.
The Saturday game would end up being a tougher test. Although the Blue Hens managed 35 shots in regulation, they could not score against Brenden Manquen, who they scored four goals against the night before.
A night after Dylan Troiano stole the show with his shutout, Patrick Rochefort responded with a gem of his own. He faced 24 shots in regulation, but managed to stop them all.
In overtime, the Blue Hens offense upped their game. They managed seven shots in overtime. Manquen, however, made a few clutch glove saves, including one off a cannon from Blue Hens Senior Steve Braun, to send the game to a shootout.
The first three rounds in the shootout were scoreless. Freshman stud Cole Zucker got his chance to be the hero once again, and missed wide. After Lebanon Valley forward Brennan Thompson couldn’t beat Rochefort, Blue Hen Leo Skehan had a chance to finish the game in the fifth round.
Skehan noticed that Lebanon Valley goalie Manquen was slow to get into his butterfly. Skehan sneaked a shot between his legs to finally get the first goal of the game.
Lebanon Valley then sent their top scorer Joey Labonte to extend the game. Labonte made his move, but Rochefort was able to stay with him as he moved across the crease and stopped the shot to win the game for the Blue Hens.
After the couple wins against Lebanon Valley, the Blue Hens now face their biggest test so far this season in third ranked Stony Brook. These two games are going to be crucial as the teams are two of the elite in the ESCHL. Both games are going to be at home in the Fred Rust arena on December 5th and December 6th.