Newark, Del. — The University of Delaware Division 2 men’s hockey team (16-8-0) launched a ruthless salvo of 132 shots onto the West Chester goal in a weekend home-and-home series and took both halves of it, defeating the Golden Rams (5-14-1) 10-2 at Gold Arena on Friday (Jan. 11) before securing a 5-1 win at the AAA Arena at Ice Line on Saturday (Jan. 12). Steve Bryson and Ryan Morse each recorded a hat trick through the course of the weekend.
In Friday’s 10-2 win, the Blue Hens established a strong net-front presence throughout and accounted for all three of their first-period goals — two from Steve Bryson and one from Andrew Marciniak — from close range. After Bryson opened the game with a rebound put-back of an Alec Rankin shot from the right dot at 11:22, Marciniak tipped a shot from Larry Hooper past West Chester goalie Jordan Lorah to double the Hens’ lead.
With three minutes left in the opening frame, a roughing minor assessed to Dan Demas left the door open for the Golden Rams to halve the Hens’ lead, and a mid-slot wrist shot from leading scorer Joseph Gibbs got past Delaware goalie Stephen Odgers to give West Chester their lone success on four power-play chances. Bryson countered for the Hens with 29 seconds left in the period, scoring his second goal of the game via a net-front feed directly from an attacking zone face-off.
The Hens built on a 3-1 advantage through a 31-shot second period, with four different skaters beating Lorah. At 9:37, Larry Hooper stole the puck amid a failed West Chester breakout and walked it in for an easy chip shot. Ryan Morse followed two minutes later with an easy wrist shot from a Jeremy DeWit face-off win to lift the Hens to a 5-1 advantage. With 6:02 remaining in the middle period, Marciniak set Rankin up for a breakaway with a stretch pass across the neutral zone, and Rankin carried the puck in for his eighth goal of the season after his earlier two assists.
DeWit’s two goals – a redirect amid a net-front scrum with 3:08 left in the second and a rifle from the bottom of the right face-off circle 7:57 into the third — were split by West Chester’s second and final goal of the game which came off an end-to-end fast break from Alex Marino with 2:18 left in the second. Sophomore Ryan Johnson added a rebound put-back for Delaware at 14:43, and Bryson completed his hat trick and accounted for the Hens’ 10th goal with 2:49 to go.
In all, Delaware peppered Lorah with 78 shots, while Odgers (7-2-0) recorded 23 saves on 25 shots faced in victory.
The shooting-gallery mentality of the Blue Hens continued in Saturday’s 5-1 triumph, when they launched 54 shots on goal and countless more into the boards on either side of Rams’ netminder Hudson Mokrejs.
Following a three-assist performance on Friday, Ryan Morse displayed his sniping ability and notched a hat trick on Saturday. His first goal came 12:21 into a four-goal first period, when he chipped the puck past Mokrejs at the left edge of the crease following a Jeremy DeWit face-off win. He followed with his second 29 seconds left in the opening frame, receiving the puck from Steve Bryson following a West Chester turnover and popping Mokrejs’s water bottle off the top of the net from close range.
Morse completed the hat trick with his 21st goal of the season 5:17 into the second period, when he fielded a headman pass from DeWit up the middle and rifled a top-shelf wrist shot past Mokrejs from 25 feet out.
Up comfortably 5-0 through two periods (DeWit and Kyle Sapia each scored in the first as well), the Hens were silenced in the third despite recording 21 shots on goal. After Josh Stephenson gave the Rams their lone goal of the game with a bar-down snipe from the top of the right circle four minutes into the period, the West Chester penalty killing unit shut down the Hens’ power play on two separate majors: Zach Hauler was issued one for a check from behind on Ryan Johnson, and Richard Brown received one and a game misconduct for cross-checking Devin LeBlanc in the neck.
Delaware maintained a near constant presence in the attacking zone, and the Hens’ defence limited West Chester to a mere 10 shots, nine of which were saved by goalie Chris Demas (5-3-0).
The Blue Hens continue their five-game road stretch next weekend, taking on The College of New Jersey on Friday (Jan. 18) in Lawrenceville, N.J., and Stevenson on Saturday (Jan. 19) in Reisterstown, Md.