Blue Hens

ACHA D1: Delaware Sweeps Through Opening Weekend

Defenceman Jake DeFares led Delaware with five goals through opening weekend. (Tisa Della-Volpe)

Newark, Del. — The University of Delaware Division 1 men’s hockey team swept through their opening weekend of ACHA action at Fred Rust Arena, handily defeating Penn State Berks in both halves of a two-game set, 9-2 and 11-0, on Friday evening (Sept. 27) and Saturday afternoon (Sept. 28), before mounting a thrilling comeback to defeat West Chester on Sunday afternoon (Sept. 29).

Friday, Sept. 27 — Delaware 9, Penn State Berks 2

Speed and depth from the Blue Hens were apparent, as they set the tone with five first-period goals — including one from the fourth line and another from the blue line. After fourth-line winger Devin Jenny drew first blood 4:32 into the game off the rebound of a Mike Patterson shot from the left point, Chris Mazzella and Brian Ostrander padded the Hens’ lead by finishing odd-man rushes, and defenceman Jake DeFares put away a net-front centring pass from fellow blue-liner Ivan Sidoriak. Ostrander’s second goal of the game — a top-shelf wrist shot from a Colin Emerich feed at 15:17 — prompted an early exit from Lions goalie Trent Bogert.

Defencemen Harrison Chuma and Jack Zimmer accounted for two of the Hens’ four further goals, rounded out by one from Gavin Hulser and a second tally from Mazzella to seal the 9-2 victory a minute into the third period.

Both Penn State Berks goals came on power plays, and both were scored by Casey Sottanella via primary assists from Ken Keene.

Delaware goalie Chris Ponticello stopped 19 of 21 shots faced, while the Berks goaltending tandem of Bogert and Alex Goldbrunner were pelted with 61 shots on goal.

Saturday, Sept. 28 — Delaware 11, Penn State Berks 0

Less than 15 hours following their Friday victory, the Blue Hens picked up right where they left off with a fast-paced domination of the Lions. Once again, Delaware maintained a near constant attacking zone presence, limiting Berks to only 14 shots on goal through the entire contest.

The Hens won battles for net-front presence to score both their first-period goals directly off attacking zone face-offs. Defenceman Harrison Good tipped the puck past Goldbrunner from a Ryan Wagner face-off win 3:39 into the game, and Kevin Felice commenced a hat trick with an almost identical play at 7:20, finishing an Emerich face-off win.

A strong breakout, odd-man rushes and quick puck movement gave Delaware a constant advantage, as they steadily increased their advantage. Good accounted for a second goal with a 20-foot wrist shot in the final seconds of the middle period, and DeFares joined Felice with three goals on the afternoon, finishing a tic-tac-toe from Mike Nisky 9:14 into the second before a pair of third-period goals — one off a Mazzella rebound and the other a one-timer from the mid-slot.

Zimmer, Mazzella and Mike Redgate also scored for Delaware, while Emerich and Nisky each notched four assists. Corbin Gustafson earned his first shutout in a Delaware sweater with 14 saves, while Goldbrunner stopped 28 of 39 shots faced in defeat.

Sunday, Sept. 29 — Delaware 4, West Chester 3

After exhibiting complete domination over Penn State Berks in their first two regular season games, the Blue Hens overcame a 3-1 deficit to West Chester with three unanswered goals in the third period.

Riding the wave of his Saturday hat trick, DeFares potted the game-winning goal for Delaware with 4:20 remaining, fielding a cross-slot pass from Nisky and firing a wrist shot from the top of the left circle past West Chester goalie John Kelly. DeFares leads all Blue Hens with five goals thus far this season.

The first period proved evenly matched throughout, with the Golden Rams’ Tiernan Seningen and Delaware’s Kevin Felice trading goals. West Chester reclaimed the lead 8:44 into the second period, when Tyler Johnson generated a breakaway from a Delaware turnover and beat Ponticello from close range. Jake Vitullo extended the Rams’ lead to 3-1 with 6:11 left in the second period, tracking down a loose puck at the top of the crease after Mike Roarty was checked out of a net-front shot opportunity by Chuma.

The Hens regrouped mightily in the third after ceding some ground in the middle frame — and the Delaware power play proved the catalyst of the momentum shift. With 4:23 elapsed in the period, Hens winger Greg Jandoli was slashed by Seningen well behind the play in the West Chester zone. Twenty seconds into the power play, Ethan Docking connected on a Nisky assist with a net-front shot. Docking then set up Mike Redgate for the game-tying goal at 7:05 before DeFares’ game winner.

Ponticello improved to 2-0-0 with 32 saves on 35 shots, while Kelly proved valiant in defeat with some spectacular saves among the 39 he recorded on 43 total Delaware shots.

The Blue Hens complete a four-game home stand on Friday (Oct. 4), hosting Villanova in the first half of a home-and-home series. Game time at Fred Rust Arena is 7 p.m. EDT; DHN TV and DHN Radio will offer full coverage beginning at 6:45 p.m.

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