Newark, Del. — A “battle of the brothers” played out, not over faceoff dots or across blue lines, but in net on Friday (Nov. 9), when the Blue Hens hosted the George Washington Colonials at Gold Arena. Though it was an evenly matched game all around, Delaware emerged victorious, 6-4.
Delaware goalie Gabe Nadell posed with brother Corey, in goal for George Washington, and their parents in a quick pre-game photo op. After a few friendly chirps and a little jostling, masks came down into place.
The first period was a quiet affair, back and forth with quick offences running up against solid defences so often the puck changed possession sometimes as many as six times before it was in the next ten feet, let alone the next zone. Twelve minutes in, Colonials forward Sun Oh Chung was called for interference. Chris Mayville netted a power play goal 73 seconds into the man advantage, assisted by Jack Mastronardi and centere Shane Saladis.
The Nadell brothers were matched for shots in the first frame, though Gabe had one more save than Corey.
The second period was just a little wilder for Delaware. They earned themselves a 3-0 lead, blew the lead, regained it by one and then almost lost it again. Two and a half minutes in, Delaware defender Ben Kahan slapped one in to give the Blue Hens a 2-0 lead. Less than a minute later, Mastronardi and blueliner Nick Mangano assisted centre Safwaan Khan on the goal that would give the Blue Hens the biggest lead of the night.
Fifty seconds later, that lead would start to turn on them. Delaware winger Joe Weindling was sent off for a hook at 3:55. George Washington’s Alec Yerkovich — the younger of the two Yerkoviches on the team — took advantage of the power play. Four minutes later, forward Brian Sargent and defender Samuel Kirby assisted Berrett Levy in the goal that cut the Delaware lead to one. A minute later, the younger Yerkovich and Grey Harral assisted big brother Will Yerkovich on the tying goal.
George Washington squandered their momentum with a penalty with 10-1/2 minutes left on the clock, but Delaware was unable to capitalize on the penalty.
To wrap up the period, first-line winger Steve Palomba found Saladis to regain Delaware’s lead. Mayville was called on elbowing with just under two minutes to go, though the penalty kill managed to hold off the jinx of the power-play goal.
Once again, the brothers were well matched in shots on goal, Gabe still ahead in saves. They both had a few more interesting deflections and blocks in the second period.
Delaware killed off the remainder of the Mayville penalty to start the third period and return to the constant back-and-forth. A pass from defender Matt Vermont gave winger Braden Rishell the 5-3 goal midway through the period. Things started to look a little set.
Enter the last 1:06. Delaware takes their timeout. It’s unknown when Corey Nadell left the George Washington goal because everyone was too busy watching his brother fend off the offence at the other end. Delaware missed an empty net goal wide to the left.
Will Yerkovich scored for the Colonials to close to within a 5-4 margin with 35.7 seconds left on the clock.
After George Washington took their timeout in the final 15 seconds, Saladis got the puck to Vermont, who shot from well past the centre line to redeem the earlier empty-net miss and seal the 6-4 win for Delaware.
The Nadell brothers may or may not have pretended to drop gloves and throw down by the scorers’ box after the handshake line. They were laughing.
The Blue Hens take on Rowan University Saturday (Nov. 10) at 5:30 at Hollydell Ice Arena in Sewell, N.J., then look to the Empire Classic next weekend. They will play Friday, Saturday and Sunday, against Pitt-Johnstown, Ramapo, and Fairfield respectively, at the Revolution Ice Center.