Hens beat Rutgers 5-2 in fifth game of the season
A heavy scent of sweat lingers in the air of the Fred Rust Ice Arena Friday as the Blue Hens
surge forward in the first period, with senior defenseman Gabriel Colona and forward Vincent Zingarelli scoring two goals before arch rivals Rutgers Scarlet Knights had a chance to take a breath.
It is the dawn of a new year and a fresh start for the team who lost many core senior members last year and gained the leadership of new coach, Rocky Romanella.
Senior defender Steven Braun said the team has some new factors on it, which has helped them out so far.
“This season is a little different from the past two seasons whereas we had different guys who have been here for a while. We have a new coach, a lot of new kids on our team so it’s been really good for us,” Braun said.
The Hens’ momentum wavered during the second period, allowing the Knights to outshoot them, but the resiliency of the players prevailed. Each time the Rutgers team attempted to advance, Delaware successfully struck them down both figuratively and literally on the ice.
Junior Leo Skehan redeemed the team by scoring the only goal of the period with the assist of fellow teammates Zingarelli and senior Marcello DeAngelis to go up 3-0. With a palpable tension brewing between the two opponents, tempers flared and the first skirmish of the night broke out, sending Skehan into the penalty box.
Sophomore forward John Redgate said the team is working on being more forceful when it comes to the offense.
“I think we are definitely a little bit more aggressive this year, we have faster guys,” Redgate said. “I think we’re trying to attack the puck rather than sit back. We have more systems, we’re a little bit more structured this year and I think that’s because of less leadership and new guys.”
During the start of the third period, another brawl banished players Dylan Troiano, Michael Conte and Nick Ustaki to the sidelines, leaving Rutgers with an opportunity to make their first score of the night to close the gap to two goals. Delaware swiftly bounced back from the blow with Joe Bastone slinging the puck past the Rutgers goalie and evening out the score of the period to go up 4-1.
The Knights, starting off the season slow, desperately threw themselves into the play, managing to land their last goal of the game before the Hens reclaimed the puck and Braun made the final score, cementing Delaware’s victory over Rutgers.
Throughout the evening four separate fights broke out among the players, illustrating the rivalry between the teams who are well acquainted with one another. In fact, the coaching staff maintains strong friendships and the aggression on the ice is seen as passion in the heat of the match.
“That’s real, that’s real, it’s left on the ice, we leave it on the ice but it’s real on the ice,” Romanella said. “Everyone respects the game enough to shake hands at the end and say ‘good game,’ but when we’re out there the rivalry is real.”
Though Romanella said he was pleased with the victory and proud of his players, he will continue to push for a stronger performance.
“Rutgers is a very good team, they have a good program, they work hard, they are structurally sound,” Romanella said. I just think that when we’re firing on all cylinders, I think we are really a class above.”
Despite the strength of the team garnered in the past, he said he celebrates the present and the heart and passion exemplified by the players this year. With a goal-oriented team, he believes the sky’s the limit.
However, the ranked-ninth Hens have a lot to work to do before they start dreaming of a championship. Two weeks from now they face worthy opponent, Rhode Island, who is currently ranked at number seven in the latest ranking from the American Collegiate Hockey Association (ACHA).
Despite the current winning streak, Romanella said he wants the team to remain on its toes.
“I want them to stay hungry, you know?” he said. “I just don’t want anyone to get complacent or comfortable. We won four in a row and I don’t want them to think that’s enough, because it’s not enough until we are raising a championship banner.”