Newark, Del. — After being overpowered in the first period, the University of Delaware Division 2 men’s hockey team (21-9-0) rallied to a fiercely-contested 3-2 shootout win* over Rider (18-4-2) on Saturday evening (Feb. 2) at Fred Rust Arena.
Following 65 physical minutes of action, Delaware shone in a three-man shootout which was cut short after goalie Stephen Odgers extended his right leg to save a close wrist shot from Chris Johnson, the Broncs’ second shooter, and Steve Bryson connected for Delaware following Jeremy DeWit’s first-round goal.
But it was a tooth-and-nail fight for the Hens to get to that point.
After struggling to break through Rider’s neutral-zone trap in the first period and surrendering the early lead 7:14 in thanks to a Nick Leelum wrist shot from the left point, the Blue Hens began to mount their rally midway through the second period. After shutting down a two-on-one rush from the Broncs and denying Johnson a potential second Broncs goal mid-period, the Hens’ power-play unit took full advantage of a Mike Kauffman interference minor. With one second left on the power play — Delaware’s second of the game — Bryson popped the water bottle off the top of the Rider net from 12 feet out off a DeWit feed and tied the game at one goal apiece with 2:21 left in the second.
Delaware’s quick attack continued 43 seconds into the third, when Ryan Morse put back the rebound of a DeWit shot from close range to lift the Hens to a 2-1 advantage. Much to Delaware’s dismay, Morse went on to be assessed a cross-checking major and a game misconduct on a hit against Rider’s Nick Ruggero at the Broncs’ blue line with 12:23 left in regulation. Just 10 seconds into the major, Rider’s Jake Lukis tipped a a Justin Tiso cannon from the high slot past Odgers to tie the contest, and a back-and-forth final 12 minutes of regulation forced a four-on-four overtime, in which Delaware could not convert on four shots and nor could Rider on three.
Odgers concluded the game with 37 saves on 39 shots, while Rider goalie Angelo Perri stopped 32 of 34 shots faced.
Delaware’s regular season schedule ends next weekend, with Millersville coming to town Friday (Feb. 8) and Mid-Atlantic Collegiate Hockey Conference rival Maryland visiting on Saturday (Feb. 9). Both games will air on Delaware Hockey Night Radio.
* While the shootout result is acknowledged in the Mid-Atlantic Collegiate Hockey Conference standings, the American Collegiate Hockey Association standings will reflect a tie.