Newark, Del. — The University of Delaware Division 1 men’s hockey team ran their perfect 2019-20 record to 5-0-0 with a sweep of their weekend series against Villanova, defeating the Wildcats, 7-2, on Friday night (Oct. 4) at Fred Rust Arena before registering a similarly sound 6-2 victory on Saturday night (Oct. 5) at Hatfield Ice in Colmar, Pa.
Friday, Oct. 4 — Delaware 7, Villanova 2
After trading goals with the Wildcats in the first 71 seconds, Delaware edged away to a 4-2 lead through the first period and asserted their superiority in the third to secure victory the first half of the home-and-home series. Seven different Blue Hen skaters found the back of the net.
Both teams traded unsuccessful opportunities in the initial 38 seconds before Delaware winger Cam Piorkowski fielded a Kevin Felice headman pass at the Villanova blue line, deked to draw Villanova goalie John Persichilli out of position, and flipped an easy backhand shot into the Wildcats’ net. Just 33 seconds later, Tim Arena deflected an Ed Klein shot from the right dot into the Delaware cage to even the score. The Blue Hens dominated the remainder of the first period to build a 4-1 lead, with Chris Mazzella firing a rocket from the right point at 5:00, Jake DeFares burying a back-door pass from Devin Jenny at 9:16, and Colin Emerich finishing a Harrison Chuma centring pass from 15 feet out at 4:55.
The Villanova forecheck stunted Delaware’s momentum in the closing seconds of the first period, intercepting a Delaware breakout pass and leading to a close-range goal from Junmo Kim with 15 seconds remaining.
Penalty trouble for Delaware early in the second period — tripping and interference minors assessed to Mike Patterson and a high-sticking penalty assessed to Mike Redgate all in the first 8-1/2 minutes of the period — gave the Wildcats ample chance to cut further into their deficit, but the Delaware penalty killing unit proved superior.
The Hens resumed their relentless attack in the third period, pelting Persichilli with a constant barrage of shots and controlling the Villanova zone. Just over eight minutes into the frame, Hens fourth-liner Greg Jandoli stole the puck in the Wildcats zone before launching a wrist shot of Persichilli’s left shoulder to lift the Hens’ lead to 5-2. Linemate Ryan Luppe scored his first goal in a Delaware sweater with 5:10 left, sealing the 7-2 victory a minute and a half after third-liner Gavin Hulser further padded the Hens’ advantage.
Delaware goalie Chris Ponticello ran his seasonal record to 3-0-0 with a 37-save effort, while Persichilli stopped 34 of 41 shots faced in defeat.
Saturday, Oct. 5 — Delaware 6, Villanova 2
The Blue Hens’ second line sustained their momentum to establish the tone Saturday, accounting for two rapid-fire goals in the first eight minutes. After finding the back of the net early in the third minute, Colin Emerich set up linemate Kevin Felice for a power-play goal at 7:57 during a double minor assessed to Villanova’s Marc Trotta. Rich Halevy halved Delaware’s lead with 1:25 left in the opening period, only for the Hens to reassert in the middle frame.
Not one minute into the second period, Chris Mazzella connected on his first of two goals set up by Mike Nisky, who leads the team with 11 assists. Mazzella’s second tally gave the Hens a 4-1 intermission lead, and a second goal from Villanova’s Halevy in the fourth minute of the third period was answered by a further Delaware pair, coming from defenceman Harrison Good and fourth-line forward Jake Nimeh.
Ponticello, who notched an assist from between the pipes, improved to 4-0-0 on the year. Ajay Fernandez took the loss in net for Villanova.
The Division 1 Blue Hens travel to Long Island next weekend for a two-game set with Stony Brook before a three-game barnstorm through Michigan. The Hens return home on Oct. 25, when they host Drexel.