Newark, Del. — Flat-footed out of the gate after having not played in the last 12 days, the University of Delaware Division 2 men’s hockey team (14-5-0) failed to find their rhythm in a 9-2 loss to the Penn State Ice Lions (9-3-0) on Friday (Nov. 30) at Fred Rust Arena.
Outmatched in their transition game, out-battled for net-front presence, and outshot 37-19, the Hens were thoroughly outplayed despite the return of defencemen Andrew Marciniak, Dan Demas and Eddie Martorella to the lineup from upper-body injuries and despite drawing first blood 8:03 in. Kept without a shot on goal until then, Delaware’s Ryan Lowe connected on a mid-slot rifle past Lions goalie William Holtforster, but the momentum quickly shifted.
Delaware gave up nine straight goals to Penn State, who dominated all three zones, recorded 29 shots in the first two periods, and swarmed directly in front of the Blue Hens net to account for five of their first seven goals off rebounds. Jake O’Donnell chased down a Brendan Horgas clear amid a Lions penalty kill to pot the equaliser at 14:50, while defenceman Mike Lassik rifled a top-shelf laser from the top of the left circle to give Penn State a lead that would only expand as the game progressed.
In the second period, first-line centre Nico Gricco accounted for two of the Ice Lions’ five goals, crashing the net to put back a rebound 19 seconds into the middle frame and lift the Lions to a 3-1 lead before notching a similar net-front put-back in the closing seconds of a two-man advantage at 13:52. Damon DiLaurentis also connected for a power-play goal, finishing a Gricco chanse off a Chris Demas pad save just 28 seconds later. A third Penn State goal in less than two minutes — from Danny Cole off the rebound of a Justin Boornazian shot at 15:40 — brought Demas’s night in net to a close after 19 saves on 26 shots.
Stephen Odgers, who relieved Demas (4-2-0) after the Hens dropped to a 7-1 deficit, saved nine of 11 shots faced, giving up third-period goals to Joe DeLaurentis and Jay Furst before Alec Rankin gave the Hens their only other goal of the night at 18:14 in the final frame on a net-front tap-in.
Steve Bryson left the game early in the first period with an upper-body injury, leaving the Hens without two-thirds of their usual first line for much of the contest as Ryan Morse remains out with a lower-body injury.
The Blue Hens and the Ice Lions square off again Saturday (Dec. 1) in the annual Andrew McDonough B+ Foundation Charity Game, with all proceeds to benefit the Andrew McDonough B+ Foundation. Game time at Fred Rust Arena is 5:25 p.m.; coverage on Delaware Hockey Night Radio is slated to begin at 5:15 p.m.