Newark, Del. — A hard-earned net-front goal from Mike Irey 57 seconds into overtime sealed a 3-2 win for the Delaware Ducks 18AA team (11-2-0 DVHL) over the previously-undefeated Quakers (13-0-1) on Saturday (Dec. 22) at the Patriot Ice Center.
After both teams failed in their respective first waves in the three-on-three extra period, Irey carried the puck up the ice for the Ducks and buried the game winner past Quakers goalie Matt Shandler from directly in front of the crease. Irey’s 11th seasonal goal for the Ducks was indicative of the hard work required in upending the Quakers in their first of three meetings this year.
“We had five or six grade A chances, but we couldn’t bury the puck,” said Ducks coach Adam Graff. “I knew our top-end talent was going to take over in overtime. The second shift was dominant; Irey found a way to make a play.”
Despite the quality scoring chances Delaware generated in the early stages, stellar goaltending from Shandler prevented the Ducks from blowing the margin wide open amid a constant stream of activity and 30 shots in regulation.
“We got tons of chances on (Shandler) early; we just couldn’t score,” Graff continued. “He gives up rebounds, and we had to find a way to get the ugly ones.”
J.P. Ahearn accounted for both regulation goals for Delaware, his first coming 3:27 into the first period. After Shandler turned aside an Alex Maglio shot, Ahearn — looming directly in front of the Quakers’ cage — lifted the rebound up and in. The Quakers nearly tired the game at 8:56, but a Kyle Washkalavitch chance from close range was foiled by Ducks netminder Troy Stefano, who recorded 24 saves in victory.
Ahearn doubled the Ducks’ lead 7:04 into the second period with a similarly gritty goal. After defenceman Paul Army and Quakers centre Nick Higgins were knocked down amid a net-front scrum, Ahearn fired the puck over them — and a lunging Shandler — to lift his side to a 2-0 advantage. Washkalavitch responded for the Quakers with 80 seconds to go in the middle period, scoring over Stefano’s glove from the left edge of the crease off a cross-slot feed from Nick Ferraro.
Delaware nearly reclaimed a two-goal lead three minutes into the third period, but a rebound put-back from Alex Maglio was disallowed due to a crease violation. While the Ducks’ penalty killing unit stymied the Quakers mid-period, the Quakers took advantage of a napping Ducks defence with 2:16 left in regulation to tie the game.
Ferraro, after assisting Washkalavitch earlier, was on the receiving end of a Frank Corrado outlet pass amid a two-on-zero rush into the Ducks zone and scored the equaliser with a 12-foot wrist shot that trickled under Stefano’s left leg and over the goal line.
Improved defensive play from the Ducks through the final minutes of regulation kept the game deadlocked until Irey’s overtime game-winner.
Delaware had no power-play opportunities; the Quakers were 0-for-3 with a man advantage. The two teams meet again Sunday morning (Dec. 23) in Westtown, Pa.; coverage on Delaware Hockey Night Radio is slated to begin at 10:15 a.m.