Sewell, N.J. — It was a team effort from the University of Delaware Division 2 men’s hockey team on Saturday night (Nov. 17) at Hollydell Ice Arena, as the second and third lines led the Blue Hens (14-4-0) to a 4-3 win over Mid-Atlantic Collegiate Hockey rival Rowan (6-4-2) following a 7-3 defeat to Rider the night before.
With three of the usual top six forwards out of the lineup, including leading scorer Ryan Morse, the second and third lines rose to the challenge of a perennially physical Rowan side with a strong backcheck, and their awareness, creativity and stick-handling led to a 4-0 run through the first two periods.
Chris Conlin put Rowan on the board 81 seconds into the contest with a mid-slot backhand shot, and the Profs’ defence kept the Hens scoreless through much of the first period despite being outshot 14-7. A poorly-executed line change from Rowan with play developing in front of their bench served to shift the momentum in Delaware’s favour in the final three minutes of the period, and the Blue Hens pounced on their first power play of the game.
Delaware only needed 27 seconds with a man advantage to tie the game at one apiece, as Alec Rankin and Devin LeBlanc quarterbacked clean and quick puck movement around the perimeter of the zone while Larry Hooper raced toward the net from the left boards, slamming the puck past Rowan goalie Kyle Rink off a backdoor pass from Rankin at 17:19. LeBlanc’s 16th goal of the season came at 19:16 and gave the Hens a lead they would not relinquish, as the sophomore centre deked left to gain space around two defenders in the middle of the Rowan zone before firing a point-blank wrist shot into the back of the net.
The third line — comprised this night of usual fourth-liners Shawn Camisa, Kyle Sapia and Matt Tofte given the scratches affecting the top six — kept the momentum going for Delaware in the second period. Tofte connected on a low-slot centring pass from Camisa with a close-range one-timer at 7:41, while Camisa turned the Profs’ opportunity to get a goal back into the eventual game-winner at 13:40. As Rowan defenceman Jake Toner prepared to work the puck toward his forwards from the right point, Camisa stripped the puck from him, generated a breakaway across the neutral zone, and walked it in for a close wrist shot past Rink, extending Delaware’s lead to 4-1.
Delaware goalie Stephen Odgers had a solid night, recording 29 saves and many of them magnificent. After allowing a hard-luck goal to Adam Colclough at 15:02 in the second, one that dribbled through his legs off a wrist shot from the left face-off dot, Odgers redeemed himself 40 seconds into the third period by thwarting a Nick Ramos breakaway. A belt-high rebound put-back from Kyle Ringheiser brought the Profs within a goal with 3:25 left in regulation, but Odgers and the Delaware defence — still without the sidelined Andrew Marciniak, Dan Demas, and Eddie Martorella — parried a flurry of shots in the final seconds to seal the win.
Delaware was 1-for-4 on the power play, while Rowan failed to capitalise on either power play they were availed. Rink recorded 27 saves on 31 shots in defeat for the Profs.
Following the Thanksgiving break, Delaware concludes the fall portion of their season with a two-game set at home against Penn State on Nov. 30 and Dec. 1. Both games will air on Delaware Hockey Night Radio.