The Blue Hens were victorious this weekend against the West Chester University Rams, as they came out with a 7-1 win on Friday night and a 3-0 shutout on Saturday afternoon. For the first game of the series, the Hens traveled to the Rams’ campus, and Saturday they played at home for their Senior Night and Fan Appreciation Night.
The Hens knew they had a lot riding on the last two games of the regular season, so they needed to play strong and smart. Puck drop was 6:15 at the IceLine Arena on Friday night with a starting line of #15 Shane Mullin, #39 Vinny Zingarelli, #22 Michael Nisky, #20 Ian Anderson, #24 Michael Zidansek, and in goal #30 Stephen East. The first period, the team came out ready to put up a fight. Within the first ten minutes of the game, Pierce Lamberton found the back of the net twice. The first goal was assisted by Chris Mazzella and Devin Jenny, and the second was assisted by Mazzella and Justin Hoch. They came out of the first period on top, and when the second started, things started to get chippy. A few minutes in, Max Freeman snuck the puck in the net off a pass from Cole Zucker and Zingarelli. West Chester responded a few minutes later, and decreased their deficit by one. Throughout the period, there was a number of penalties called on both teams. The Hens needed to keep their heads clear and in the game. With just under a minute to go in the second period, Lamberton found the back of the net for the third time, and earned himself a hat~trick! The assist came from Nisky and Mazzella. The team went into the third period with a strong lead. Throughout the last twenty minutes of play, the Hens only extended their lead by more. While the period was very chippy, Delaware managed to come out on top. John Redgate scored off an assist by Zucker and Zingarelli. Less than a minute later, Mazzella scored off a pass from Nisky and Lamberton. Finally, the seventh goal of the night was put in the net by Nisky off an assist from Mullin and Zingarelli. The Blue Hens came out with a 7-1 victory on Friday night.
Some of the guys shared their thoughts on the game with me. Dean DiSimone shared, “It was tough to adapt to their ice because we play on an Olympic rink, and their rink was a lot smaller. We did a good job out of the gate, and got up on them early to where they couldn’t come back. East played well in the net. We did a good job of getting the puck deep, and working their defense in the corners. We won battles. Overall, we just played at a high pace, and didn’t let them use the smaller ice to their advantage.” Mike Redgate said, “It was one of the better team wins of the year. We scored seven goals, and everyone chipped in. It’s good to see guys, like Pierce, put the puck in the net. We need that to succeed.” Lamberton added, “We just played a simple game, and didn’t try to do too much. We put the puck in deep, put it on net, and we were rewarded.”
Saturday afternoon the team’s matched up at the Rust for the final game of the regular season. After getting the W the night before, the Hens needed to win this game to be titled the ESCHL Champions and gain an autobid to the National Tournament. Before puck drop, the seniors on the team were joined by their families on the ice to celebrate their time with the Blue Hens. The team recognized John Redgate, Corey Leskanic, Dylan Troiano, and Vinny Zingarelli for their outstanding efforts and dedication to the team for the past four years. After the ceremony, the ref dropped the puck, and they were off. The starting lineup for the Hens was the same as the night before, except for a goalie change. Troiano played in net. In the first period, the Hens came out flat and couldn’t seem to get one on the board. Coming back out for the second, they needed to step up their game. So far, there was a lot of penalties called on both teams. A little more than halfway through the period, John Redgate managed to slip the puck past the Rams’ keeper off an assist from Freeman and Zucker. The period ended with the Hens having a 1-0 lead. During the third intermission, the team needed to get themselves hyped up and ready to come out and put up a final fight. They needed to come out strong, minimize penalties, and take as many shots on net that they can. Less than a minute in, Mullin put in an individual effort while the team was on the penalty kill, and scored. Delaware found success on the penalty kill throughout the entirety game. Zingarelli sealed the deal for the team when he scored the third and final goal of the night off an assist from Mullin and Zidansek. The team locked in their bid to the National tournament and named themselves conference champs with a 3-0 win over the Rams.
After all of the excitement, some of the guys shared their thoughts on the games. Vinny Zingarelli said, “The first two periods were really sloppy on our part, as we played way down to West Chester’s level. But we figured it out for the last period to win the league.” Andrew Corapi added, “Winning this game felt a little more special than usual. Obviously, getting a league win is good, but clinching the regular season title for the first time in our team’s history is pretty cool. It was also great to get a win for our seniors on their last night playing in the Rust. They’ve been a huge part of our success this year, and we’re glad we could get one more win for them on home ice.” To wrap things up, Ian Anderson said, “We came into Saturday knowing we needed the win, and if we got it we would win the league. We have been playing good hockey recently so we were just looking to continue that on Saturday. It was senior night too, so being able to get a win for them was huge because of the leadership and example they have set for us since we’ve been here. Winning the league is only the first step to our overall goal, but it says a lot about how consistent we have been throughout the year. We are looking to build off winning the league for playoffs and nationals.”
The team will head to Rhode Island next weekend to play in the ESCHL playoffs, and then they will head to Nationals in the beginning of March. The team has had a great season, and it is time to see them do more. Be sure to keep up with the team these next few weeks as they play for two titles. Follow all the social media pages for updates on the how the team is doing!
Facebook: University of Delaware Men’s Division 1 Ice Hockey
Written By: Analisa Vizzoni