Lynchburg, Va. — The University of Delaware Division 2 men’s hockey team saw their winning streak snapped at five on Sunday afternoon (Jan. 27), when Liberty (17-3-1) defeated the Blue Hens (19-9-0), 5-1, at the LaHaye Ice Center.
The Flames took no prisoners, maintaining a strong presence in the Blue Hens’ zone, peppering Delaware netminder Stephen Odgers with 19 shots in the opening period, and limiting Delaware opportunities despite allowing 15 first-period shots. In the third minute, Liberty defenceman Riley Richardson blocked a Delaware clearing attempt at the left point and rifled it in for his first goal of the season. In the Blue Hens’ only legitimate scoring chance of the first period, Steve Bryson’s net-front redirect of the puck into the Liberty goal at 8:35 was disallowed on account of his playing the puck with a high stick.
Liberty’s second goal was borne of an aggressive forecheck. After Joe Nash stripped the puck in the Delaware zone, he set up a hard wrist shot from Michael Niederer at the left half-wall with 6-1/2 minutes left in the period. An interference minor charged to Hens’ defenceman Dan Demas with 3:06 remaining opened the door the Flames to further extend their lead, but while they failed to convert on that power play or the three which followed, a five-shot effort during the next two minutes served well to keep the Flames’ momentum alive into the second period.
Liberty outshot Delaware 18-6 and doubled their lead in the middle frame, with Devin Melice adding his sixth and seventh goals of the season. In the fourth minute, Melice chipped the puck past Odgers to finish a two-on-one rush into the Delaware zone headed by Johnny Kettelle. Melice’s second tally of the afternoon, a net-front put-back of a Bryce Harrison rebound, lifted the flames to a 4-0 advantage with 2:11 left in the second period.
The lone bright spot of the game for the Blue Hens occurred 2:25 into the third period, when their power play unit capitalised on a Melice tripping minor. Devin LeBlanc launched a one-timer from the right dot over the glove of Liberty goalie Adam Partridge and into the net from a cross-ice pass from Bryson, only for Liberty’s Darren Carter to respond a minute later with a breakaway goal set up by a headman pass up the middle of the neutral zone from Charlie Wilkie.
Both teams were availed four power-play opportunities, and Delaware registered the lone goal with a man advantage. Partridge improved to 13-2-1 with a 28-save effort, while Odgers dropped to 9-3-0 while saving 45 shots.
The Blue Hens wrap up their American Collegiate Hockey Association regular season with a four-game home stand, commencing with a Friday (Feb. 1) matchup against Rowan.