Blue Hens

ACHA D1: Mittelmeier Off To Flying Start With Hens

Blue Hens head coach Todd Mittelmeier (centre) mans the bench with predecessor John Donahue (left) during a game against Rhode Island. (Tisa Della-Volpe)

Newark, Del. — Todd Mittelmeier has every reason to be on top of the world.

After taking over the helm of the University of Delaware Division 1 men’s ACHA hockey team from the honourably-departing John Donahue during the Thanksgiving break, Mittelmeier — who served as Donahue’s chief assistant coach since 2017 — directed the Blue Hens to a pair of come-from-behind wins over Stony Brook (N.Y.) this past weekend.

“The team played with a tenacity and swagger that we were going to win,” Mittelmeier said. “We were down by one going into the third on Saturday and 2-0 after the first on Sunday. Looking around the room in between periods, I could see that everyone had a belief we were going to win those games. There was an energy on the bench that I can’t describe.”

A flurry of action through the first seven minutes of the third period on Saturday (Dec. 1) at The Rinx in Hauppauge, N.Y., yielded three Delaware goals, with Kevin Felice earning the eventual game-winning tally when he lifted the Hens to a 3-1 advantage 6:58 into the period. Chris Ponticello recorded 52 saves in a dynamite effort between the pipes as the Hens went on to win 3-2.

On Sunday (Dec. 2), after giving up two early goals, Delaware took charge in the second period, posting four middle-frame tallies en route to a 5-3 triumph. Brian Ostrander and Mike Nisky each scored twice, Seawolves goalie Sean Keating was pelted with 50 shots, and Ponticello recorded 39 saves in victory.

“It is never easy to change coaches mid-season,” continued Mittelmeier, a Pittsburgh native who previously served as Director of Hockey Operations at Adrian (Mich.) College. “The good thing is Coach Donahue and I have been running this program together the last two years. The change isn’t as severe if a new coach from outside the program were to take over.

“John was a great mentor, and he and I have become great friends and will remain friends,” Mittelmeier concluded. “He and I texted back and forth all weekend, and I know he couldn’t be more proud of the guys for what they were able to achieve.”

The Blue Hens carry a four-game winning streak back to the First State, where they host Towson (Md.) on Saturday (Dec. 8) in the second half of a seasonal home-and-home series. Game time at Gold Arena is scheduled for 8:15 p.m.

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