Friday, January 28, 2011

Since Last Time: Delaware

All part of Kenny Ayres' master plan for West Chester dominance. Photo: Delaware official site

Last time: Hen-d of the Semester Showdown (12/3/2010) // Weekend Observations: Delaware (12/5/2010)

Just when I thought I was done with the worst post title I've ever written until the end of days, there it is again, right on the eve of possible season-defining games on the Olympic ice at No. 4 Delaware's Fred Rust Ice Arena tonight at 7:00 p.m. and tomorrow at 5:00 p.m.

This might end up being a pretty short post, for a couple reasons. First of all, it hasn't actually been that long since last time on the college hockey clock. Four weekends, eight games. Secondly, the Blue Hens get screwed in the school paper coverage department - as far as I can tell, this November 8th article that I used last time the teams played is the most recent thing the UD Review has to show for their hockey coverage.

The good news is that the person who writes the game recaps for UD's website actually, you know, writes, so that should help us out. Sometimes that official site stuff can be painful - "Pat Verbeek scored, assisted by Andrew Cassels and Adam Burt. Then the other team scored. Then the other team scored again. Then Geoff Sanderson scored, assisted again by Cassels. Sean Burke played well in goal." Make sure you get as many names in as possible for the parents, and try to use their real names, and not 1990s-era Hartford Whalers as fill-ins.

After the split with the Icers, the Blue Hens went to Robert Morris for a pair of games that actually looked a lot like the ones PSU just played against the Colonials. RMU scored, Delaware scored more. Both games were actually pretty tight through two periods, including a deficit on Saturday after a wild second, but followed a similar pattern in the third.

The 3rd period was all Delaware as they buried three insurance markers to handily take the first game of the weekend and third of the year from RMU. Goals were scored by [Dave] Lombardi, [Vinny] Pontrello, and freshman Nick Lepore. Sophomore Nick Casella made 24 saves in net for the win, his 12th of the season.
Despite several starters out due to injury and exams, Delaware looked to familiar faces to lead them in their comeback. [Mike] Piet scored again, this time on the powerplay 1:46 into the [third] period. The goal was his fourth in his last four games and brought the Hens and Colonials back to even at 5-5. Just two minutes later [Christian] Tasker deflected junior Jason Michaud's shot in to give the Hens the lead for good. Junior Kevin Miller added an insurance goal on the powerplay with 1:44 to play.
Two big third periods, six different goal scorers. Delaware in a nutshell.

After the break, the Blue Hens hosted West Virginia, and were again boosted by a big third period in a 7-3 win on Friday, before riding Connor Moore's second period goal (and a late empty-netter) to a 2-0 win in the back half of the series. Deceptively close? I have no idea, I was busy avoiding banjo music at Bird Arena at the time. But here's what the UD site says:
The Mountaineers hung tough for two games this weekend, utilizing a collapse and clutter style defense in their own end to frustrate the Blue Hens.
Collapse and clutter?

Makes sense, since half of all Hoarders episodes are filmed in West Virginia.

All of this winning (remember, UD's only regulation loss to this point was against the Icers in December) put the Blue Hens in a showdown for first place in the ESCHL with Rhode Island, which went a little better for next week's opponent than it did for this week's. In game one, Delaware held a 3-1 lead after one period, then gave up five unanswered the rest of the way. Then in game two, UD again had a second period lead thanks to Ryan McDonald's pair, but gave up the equalizer 25 seconds after taking the lead and eventually fell 3-2 in overtime.

Last weekend, Delaware went back to Pittsburgh to play Washington & Jefferson in games that were only entertaining because of how upset the team was at having to play them. This tweet from Zach Reubel while on the road was fairly representative:
Three doo doo movies, zero food stops, five long hours. The lost weekend off to a rousing start. Thanks, Deangelis
DeAngelis, of course, is former Delaware coach Mike, who apparently scheduled the games. Considering the Blue Hens won 11-1 and 17-4, Reubel kind of has a point.

Which brings us to now, and a couple pretty important games, if you haven't heard. A great rivalry. Second place in the ESCHL on the line. And possibly Penn State's season. Despite Josh Weiner's highly-publicized tweet however, I'm not convinced the Hens can put a nail in the coffin of the Icers' season - as long as an 0-2 is followed up with a 2-0 against Rhode Island next week. I've said many times that we need 2-2 over the next two weeks, and I really don't care where the wins fall on the calendar. That said, needing a sweep is a lot to ask, and URI doesn't suck even without their WUG players, so...maybe not the final nail, but at the very least, PSU will be up against it big time without a split or sweep here.

Put all that together with seeing if Paul Daley survives to Sunday and yeah, this is going to be fun.

Outside Reading

VFTB did a great job with something I didn't pay enough attention to on here - the sudden retirement of Michigan State's Rick Comley, effective at the end of the season. Don't think that doesn't affect Penn State either, as both programs will be in the market for some of the top coaches in college hockey. Oh, and Josh Hand also gets an interview in the post. And he linked me. Basically, the post is a few copy/pasted tweets from perfection, check it out.

Mr. Penstone also got freshmen Matt Madrazo and Mike McDonagh to say things to a camera. Needless to say, the Icers would be in a pretty tough spot without those two.

The official site's preview always does a great job with the essential information.

Finally, the Collegian informs us that Icers D Kevin Miller is out for the weekend (along with Taylor Cera and the WUG players of course). Also, everyone's over the Twitter incident, but still talking about it.

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