Newark, Del. — A six-goal second period was the catalyst for the UMass Minutemen’s (7-1-1) 9-3 shellacking of the University of Delaware Division 2 men’s hockey team (11-2-0) on Friday night (Nov. 2), the Blue Hens’ first loss in over a month, at Fred Rust Arena.
Out-hustled to the puck, out-worked along the boards and in front of the net, and out-shot 55-22, Delaware showed signs of struggle after rolling through the first third of their season, especially in the middle frame.
After Ryan Johnson’s put-back of a back-door feed from Shane Moran gave Delaware the lead 1:01 in, UMass found their best stride in the second half of the first period and were unrelenting from then on. Alex Kibrick’s top-shelf wrist shot from the left point at 10:03 beat Delaware goalie Eric Birnberg to tie the game, and from that point on, the Minutemen proved overwhelmingly dominant in terms of puck and zone control. While futile in their lone first-period power play, UMass maintained an attacking-zone presence for the first 1:48 of an interference minor assessed to Delaware assist leader Stephen Bryson.
That looming presence continued throughout the second and, when paired with a Delaware defensive breakdown, resulted in six Minutemen goals, mostly from directly in front of the goal mouth. Net-front redirects from Tyler Calos and Jude Bonavita followed by a two-on-one chance finished by Artie Potter propelled UMass to a 4-1 lead just six minutes into the middle period. Devin LeBlanc split defenders and walked the puck in for a close-range wrist shot at 7:32 to bring the Blue Hens back within a pair, but the Minutemen responded with three more unanswered goals to close the second period. Calos earned his second after stealing the puck from Delaware defenceman Mike Nauman in the vicinity of the goal and scoring right on the doorstep, while Dennis Achkinazi padded the Minutemen’s lead further at 8:54 and ushering Birnberg’s departure from the game after having mustered 26 saves on 32 shots faced. The barrage continued on relief netminder Stephen Odgers, who stopped six of seven in the second period, beaten only by a net-front punch-in by Mark Campbell at 12:21.
Seven of the nine UMass goals came from inside the face-off dots, including Campbell’s put-back off a Matt Poulin rebound 17 seconds into the third period as well as Potter’s second goal, which came when he crashed the net aggressively at 4:35.
A strong UMass forecheck prevented Delaware from generating chances and largely from exiting their own zone, but they managed to add one more in the third period. Bryson finished a tic-tac-toe from Jeremy DeWit and Alec Rankin with 13:21 remaining to give the Hens a goal on their lone power play.
Ryan LaCroix earned the victory in net for UMass, saving 19 of 22 shots faced.
The Blue Hens are back in action Saturday (Nov. 3), taking on Keene State College at 8:30 p.m. at Fred Rust Arena.