NEWARK, Del. — Just over 18 months ago, on Feb. 29, 2020, the University of Delaware men’s Division 2 hockey team saw their bid for the ACHA National Championships fall short at the hands of Cincinnati. After losing their entire 2020-21 season due to the coronavirus pandemic, the Blue Hens exacted revenge on the Bearcats this weekend (Sept. 10-11), earning three of a possible four points in their season-opening series.
Friday, Sept. 10 – Delaware 6, Cincinnati 3
The Blue Hens came out flying, with Patrick Swain and Larry Hooper both beating Cincinnati goalie Ian Cozby in the first six minutes en route to a commanding 6-3 win at Fred Rust Arena. Dylan Pasley notched a late first-period goal, Hooper added a second tally in the second period, and Ben Bergman’s pair of third-period goals secured victory for the Hens. Cal Raymore contributed three assists, and Justin Nevinger earned victory in net.
Brandon Armstrong led the Bearcats with a goal and an assist, and Steve LeVasseur and Elias Aidun also scored for Cincinnati. Ian Cozby took the loss in net.
Saturday, Sept. 11 – Cincinnati 5, Delaware 4 (F/SO)
A motivated Cincinnati side looked to outpace Delaware through a three-goal second period, but the Hens’ top six — aided by a 44-save performance from rookie goalie Keith MacGregor — rallied smartly in the third to force overtime and, eventually, a shootout. While Brandon Armstrong ultimately sealed the game for the Bearcats in the second round of the shootout, the Hens showed tremendous resolve in the third period to negate a three-goal deficit.
After centre Danny Beebe fired back-to-back goals late in the second period to lift the Bearcats to a 4-1 advantage, the Hens found their stride in the final 20 minutes of regulation, swarming the net and peppering Ian Cozby with 16 shots. With 5:42 elapsed in the final frame, Larry Hooper potted his third goal of the season, hammering the rebound of a Dylan Pasley shot past Cozby. Devin LeBlanc reduced the Delaware deficit to one with 9:01 to go, winning an attacking zone face-off and walking the puck through traffic to the top of the crease for a short-range wrist shot. With Cincinnati’s Sam Dorff serving a cross-checking minor in the closing minutes, the Delaware power play came through in the clutch to tie the game. After LeBlanc fired numerous shots into Cozby’s pads from centre point, the Hens beat the Cincinnati netminder courtesy a cross-ice pass from Hooper that set up a Cal Raymore wrist shot from the right dot with 1:43 remaining.
The ‘Cats and Hens traded six shots apiece in a scoreless overtime, leading to Cincinnati’s shootout victory. Armstrong, who shot second for the Bearcats, was the only successful shooter in the three-a-side tiebreaker.
Cozby recorded 32 saves for the Bearcats.
Delaware returns to action Friday (Sept. 16), travelling to Towson before then visiting Maryland on Saturday (Sept. 17). Both games will air on Delaware Hockey Night Radio; Saturday’s game will be simulcast on Delaware Hockey Night TV.