The University of Rhode Island men’s ice hockey team dropped both games of a two game set to the University of Delaware Blue Hens, this weekend at the Bradford R. Boss Ice Arena.
This weekend concluded URI’s six-game home stand stretched out over the last three weekends. The Rams (4-3-3) entered the series against the Blue Hens (2-1-1) searching for their first win since Oct. 8.
This series would prove to be no easy task for head coach Joe Augustine and his Rams. Despite the team’s standing at No. 24 in the most recent ACHA rankings, the Blue Hens came in as the No. 12 team in the nation.
URI would send freshman goaltender JT Ketzenberger between the pipes for game one as senior goalie Caleb Neal would be the Saturday afternoon starter. Augustine had been going with the opposite the past few weekends with Neal usually on Friday and Ketzenberger on Saturday.
Augustine believed that in fairness to Neal the team as a whole just was not playing well on Fridays and hopefully a switch would change the outcomes.
“As a staff we made a decision based on numbers,” Augustine said. Augustine is not sure how he and his staff will handle the goalie situation next week. “We will decide after a week of practice,” he said.
The change did not change Rhode Island’s fortunes as they fell in the first game on Friday night, 6-3. The Rams trailed in the first period, but capitalized on a power play and get a goal from senior captain Ray Boudiette to tie it up at one goal apiece. The Blue Hens would tack on one more goal in the period to give them the 2-1 advantage into the intermission.
During the second period, the game was neck-and-neck as the Rams and Blue Hens exchanged goals. Both teams would score twice each in the second which would make for an interesting third period as the Blue Hens held a 4-3 lead.
Delaware’s goaltender, Dylan Troiano would stand tall in net and shut out URI in the final period. Troiano, after this series versus URI, is now 7-0 in the net with a .923 save percentage while allowing 2.39 goals per game, numbers that have him as one of the top goalies in the ACHA.
The Blue Hens tacked on two more insurance goals they would not need as they clinched the road victory.
Rhody was looking for redemption in the second game, but they would once again have to find a way through Troiano. The Blue Hens went away from their routine move to use Stephen East, their second goaltender who is sporting a 4-1 record on the season, and instead stayed with Troiano.
The second game was going URI’s way well into the third period, as they held a 3-1 lead in their favor.
Delaware, however, would get three unanswered goals in the third, the first coming from junior forward Max Freeman. Jakob DeFares delivered the tying goal with eight minutes left in regulation.
The last three minutes featured frenzied action and more heartbreak for URI. Sophomore Pierce Lamberton scored the fourth goal for the Blue Hens to complete the comeback, but the stunned Rams regained their composure for some late-game drama of their own. Nate Bastian lit the lamp 23 seconds later to send the game into overtime.
The Rams were guaranteed at least a point in the standings, but were hoping to snap a three-game losing skid. With 57.3 seconds left in overtime, the Blue Hens would win the game on a goal from their defenseman, Justin Hoch to cap off the thriller 4-3 for the game and the series sweep.
“We have been playing inconsistently between the Friday night and the Saturday night,” Augustine said. “It’s been a common pattern against Stony Brook, Liberty, and now Delaware. We play poorly on Friday and decently on Saturday and we go into overtime. That’s happened against three opponents.”
The Rams are now off to face Rutgers University this weekend on the road.