Newark, Del. — The University of Delaware Division 1 men’s hockey team kept their perfect record on home ice intact at 14-0-0 with a weekend sweep of Eastern States Collegiate Hockey League rival New York University on Friday (Jan. 24) and Saturday (Jan. 25) at Fred Rust Arena.
Friday, Jan. 24 — Delaware 2, NYU 1 (SO)
After battling to a 1-1 tie with the Violets through regulation and a five-minute, three-on-three overtime, the Blue Hens claimed victory in the third round of a shootout, when senior Mike Nisky scored the game-winning goal and senior Chris Ponticello sealed victory with a save on NYU defenceman Reagan Wortz.
Nisky, who entered the weekend with eight goals and 31 assists, attacked aggressively, deked right in the slot to angle NYU goalie Adam Salisbury to the post, then quickly changed course to fire a 10-foot wrist shot in off the crossbar. Wortz, who averaged just under a point a game for the Violets through the fall semester, tried to prolong the shootout with a net-front backhand shot, but was foiled by a Ponticello kick save.
Despite the Hens’ strong finish in the shootout, it took them a while to establish their momentum after losing their first four games of the month on the road – and Salisbury proved a major obstacle as well, recording 41 saves on 42 Delaware shots on goal.
Midway in the first period, Delaware defenceman Jake DeFares generated a two-on-one rush with Greg Jandoli, but failed to connect as Salisbury recorded one of 15 first-period saves. The Violets drew first blood when forward Brandon Ritchie tipped a Brian Taccone shot from the point past Ponticello at 14:38 in the opening period. The Hens’ third line responded with 9:04 left in the second, when junior Ethan Docking established net-front presence, fielded a Devin Jenny feed from the left wing boards, and tied the game with his sixth seasonal goal.
Penalty trouble for the Hens in the third period availed the Violets multiple opportunities to reclaim the lead, but a strong penalty killing unit and terrific work from Ponticello — who saved 33 of 34 total shots to improve to 14-9-0 — forced the game to overtime, in which neither team converted despite combining for 12 shots in the high-octane extra frame.
Saturday, Jan. 25 — Delaware 5, NYU 2
While the Violets came back with a vengeance on Saturday and pelted Ponticello with 40 shots on goal, the Blue Hens made the most of their opportunities and used a three-goal third period to edge clear for a comfortable 5-2 victory.
Salisbury again proved tough in net for NYU early on, stopping the first 11 shots he faced — including a Cam Piorkowski breakaway with eight minutes left in the first period. With Frankie Horowitz issued a slashing minor in the final 15 seconds of the frame, DeFares crashed the net off the initial face-off of the power play to put the Hens on the board.
At the conclusion of the first period, Delaware defenceman Jay Luce was assessed a major penalty and game misconduct for punching an NYU player, and two further penalties in the fourth minute of the second period yielded an extended two-man advantage for the Violets. Horowitz capitalised at 4:45, firing a 25-foot wrist shot past Ponticello to even the score at 1-1. Delaware countered and reclaimed the lead with 1:50 left in the second, when Chris Mazzella forced a turnover in the NYU zone and Michael Redgate notched his fourth goal of the season.
Two quick goals early in the third period – one from Nisky at 1:30, one from Piorkowski set up by Nisky and Brian Ostrander at 4:30 – extended Delaware’s lead to 4-1. Brandon Wilky cut into the Hens’ lead with a rifle directly off an attacking zone draw at 14:19, but Delaware sophomore Gavin Hulser countered with a 15-foot wrist shot off a Harrison Good assist to seal a three-goal margin of victory in the final 2:09.
Ponticello backstopped Delaware to their 17th win of the season with 38 saves; Salisbury saved 23 of 28 shots faced in defeat.
The Blue Hens continue their eight-game homestand with a two-game set against Stony Brook on Friday (Jan. 31) and Saturday (Feb. 1). Both games will stream in high definition at Delaware Hockey Night TV.