Newark, Del. — Strong net-front presence, fast puck movement, and an a pair of power-play successes lifted the University of Delaware Division 1 men’s hockey team (4-6-0) to a 6-3 win over Rhode Island (7-6-0) in their first of two meetings this weekend on Friday evening (Nov. 9) at Fred Rust Arena. Linemates Chris Mazzella and Mike Nisky contributed two goals apiece in the Hens’ first victory since dropping both halves of a two-game set to Syracuse last weekend.
After early penalty trouble pinned Delaware in their own zone for the entire 2:51 of a short-handed situation and a Hens 2-on-1 rush in the sixth minute culminated in a Ryan Burns shot from mid-slot sailing wide, Rhode Island’s Danny Ryan paved an expressway to the Delaware goal from the Hens’ blue line for a breakaway punch-in at the 8:50 mark. The Rams held Delaware scoreless for the rest of the first period, killing off two penalties in doing so.
Delaware found their best stride in a four-goal second period, tying the game on an early-period power play. Mike Nisky posted up net front to tip in a Jack Zimmer chance from the top of the zone at 3:06 before both teams exchanged goals. Just 23 seconds after Chris Mazzella’s ninth goal of the season tied it back up at two goals apiece, Harrison Chuma jammed the puck under the left pad of URI goalie John Ketzenberger amid a net-front scrum at 9:42 to give Delaware a 3-2 lead.
Billy McNally evened the game at three for Rhode Island with a redirect from the left side of the cage two minutes left in the middle frame, but Nisky quickly countered with the game-winner and his second goal of the game, crashing the net on a fast break from a Brian Ostrander feed with 58 seconds left in the period.
Up 4-3 heading into the third, Delaware kept the heat on through the final period. Gavin Hulser earned his first goal as a Blue Hen with a snipe from the top of the right circle off a Kevin Felice drop pass 4:51 into the third, while Mazzella’s second goal of the game came amid a net-front battle on a late-period power play, when he jammed the puck past Ketzenberger off a Nisky rebound.
Delaware was 2-for-6 on the power play, while Rhode Island was kept silent through five power-play opportunities. Chris Ponticello (2-2-0) earned the win between the pipes for the Blue Hens with a 36-save effort, while Ketzenberger (4-3-0) recorded 31 stops in defeat.
The teams meet again Saturday (Nov. 10) at Fred Rust Arena; game time is 5:25 p.m. Radio coverage is provided by WVUD-FM 91.3.