After battling to a 2-2 deadlock through 65 minutes, the University of Delaware Division 2 men’s hockey team (17-12-1) fell to the Rider University Broncs (14-8-1) in the seventh round of a shootout on Friday evening (Feb. 2) at Loucks Ice Center in Lawrenceville, N.J.
A top-shelf goal from Rider’s Jake Lukis—the Broncs’ seventh shooter in the tie-breaking sequence—iced the decision after a hotly-contested regulation and overtime which saw goalies Angelo Perri and Eric Birnberg combine for 76 saves.
The Blue Hens showed offensive firepower directly off the opening draw, as freshman Tyler Swift connected on a one-timer from the high slot just 46 seconds into the game. However, it was their only of 33 shots through the first two periods to get past Perri.
Rider tied the score at one apiece 4:55 into the second, when winger Chris Johnson manufactured a breakaway just inside the Delaware blue line by accelerating past defensive pressure en route to a point-blank wrist shot. First-line centre Nicholas Leelum put the Broncs up 2-1 7:21 in the third period from a seemingly impossible angle just above the goal line in the left corner, but he ricocheted the puck off the right post past Birnberg.
The Hens, who outshot Rider 47-27 through regulation, battled back well in the 55th minute. Steve Bryson increased his seasonal goal total to 23 after receiving a pass from Swift, carrying the puck in from the left dot, and launching it over the stick of Perri to tie the game with 5:32 remaining in regulation.
Neither team could score on three shots in the five-minute, four-on-four overtime.
Bryson opened the shootout in successful fashion for the Hens, beating Perri with a backhander from the left side of the crease. The third Rider shooter, captain J.J. Santagata, extended the shootout with a wrist shot under the stick of Birnberg. After the next seven shots failed to register, Lukis’s top-shelf goal secured the win for the Broncs–and a jubilant Rider side mobbed him at the boards following the dramatic game-winner.
For the purposes of the American Collegiate Hockey Association (ACHA) standings, it should be noted the game will be regarded as a draw.
Delaware have two games—both at home—remaining on their regular-season schedule. They host the Scranton Royals on Saturday (Feb. 3) at 5:30 p.m., and the Millersville Marauders on Friday (Feb. 9) evening. Both games will air on Delaware Hockey Night Radio.