In a fast-paced game on Saturday evening (Feb. 24) which saw the Delaware Blue Hens and the Toledo Rockets combine for 84 shots on goal, Brendan Duff silenced the Hens with a 45-save shutout for Toledo, who won 3-0 at the American Collegiate Hockey Association (ACHA) Division 2 Southeast Region qualifying tournament held at the LaHaye Ice Center in Lynchburg, Va.
One minute into the first period, Toledo’s leading scorer Ian Rapp connected on his first shot of the game, beating Eric Birnberg with a wrist shot from 15 feet away off a long feed from defenceman Brandon Tafelski. For Rapp, it was his 38th goal of the season. The Rockets added a pair of second-chance goals off 21 second-period shots, with Zach Felser earning his 26th seasonal score at 6:40 in the middle frame and Dominic Antonelli lifting Toledo to a 3-0 lead wth 3:19 left in the second after an Elijah Owens chance was foiled by a Birnberg pad save.
Despite outshooting Toledo 45 to 39, the Blue Hens were stymied not only by Duff’s magnificent effort between the pipes, but also by a strong backcheck anchored by Tafelski and Ryan Rapp. After being held scoreless in 30 shots through the first two periods, a further fifteen in the third were handled by Duff and subsequently cleared out from a perpetually congested low slot.
The Rockets were 1-for-5 on the power play, while Delaware failed to convert on eight opportunities, only five of which lasting the entire two minutes.
Toledo went on to defeat Cincinnati 5-1 on Sunday (Feb. 25), giving them a berth in the 16-team ACHA National Championship tournament in Columbus, Ohio in March.