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No. 25 Stony Brook hockey hopes to spark season turnaround versus Delaware

Several Stony Brook hockey players celebrate a goal by right defenseman Brendan Fess against Syracuse on Nov. 11. The Seawolves have a big upcoming series against Delaware. ANGELINA LIVIGNI/THE STATESMAN

After getting a week off for Thanksgiving, the No. 25 Stony Brook hockey team will look to get back on track in its final series of the semester.

The Seawolves (4-8-1, 3-3-0 ESCHL) will return to action at The Rinx this weekend against the Delaware Blue Hens (7-6-1, 1-1-0 ESCHL) in a two-game series. The series will begin with an 8:30 p.m. puck drop on Saturday before wrapping up at 3:30 p.m. on Sunday. Only Sunday’s matchup will count towards the Eastern States Collegiate Hockey League (ESCHL) standings.

Stony Brook’s goaltending has been up and down so far this season. Goaltender Matvei Kazakov owns a .902 save percentage and is averaging 30.6 saves per game through nine appearances this season. He struggled throughout the series against No. 18 Pittsburgh, as he allowed eight goals on 54 shots faced across the two games. His performance saw him pulled in the series finale in favor of backup goaltender Scott Barnikow.

When called upon, Barnikow has been good. In six appearances against American Collegiate Hockey Association (ACHA) teams, he has posted a .913 save percentage and averaged 28 stops per game. In ACHA play, both goalies possess inflated goals against averages, as Kazakov sits at 3.93 on the season while Barnikow is slightly better at 3.59.

As a team, the Seawolves have struggled to keep the puck out of their defensive zone. They are surrendering 40.75 shots per game on defense, which has led to them conceding five or more goals in six of their 13 contests this season. In ESCHL play, Stony Brook has been a bit better defensively, as it has given up 3.5 goals against per game.

Once again, Stony Brook will be without its top blueliner — left defenseman Andrew Mancini — who is out indefinitely due to a head injury. In his absence, its defensive core will continue to be anchored by right defensemen Nolan Towne and Owen Larson, with the former shifting to the left side. The duo co-leads the team in points among defenseman with six apiece. Towne has notched a goal and added five assists while Larson has scored twice and assisted on four.

Left defensemen Joey Trazzera, Dylan Kowalsky and Spencer Boris alongside right defenseman Brendan Fess will round out the rest of the Seawolves’ defensive core.

Stony Brook’s defense will be going toe-to-toe with a Delaware offense that possesses a lot of firepower. Delaware has scored four goals or more in six of its 14 games this season.

Leading the Blue Hens’ offensive attack is winger Justin Guelph. Through 12 games this season, Guelph leads his team with seven goals, 11 assists and 18 points.

Guelph also has a talented supporting cast surrounding him. Winger Ryan Rodrigues and center Tanner Mahoney are second and third on the team with 15 and 13 points, respectively. Rodrigues’ 10 assists are the second most on Delaware’s team, and he has also tacked on five goals. Mahoney’s six goals are tied for the second most on the squad and has also dished out seven assists.

Winger Luke Dosen and center Tommy Tracy have been dangerous as well. Dosen is tied with Mahoney for second on the team with six goals and has also tacked on five assists. Tracy sits just behind Dosen for fourth on the team with 10 points (four goals and six assists).

The Blue Hens’ blue line has also been a stable force and a major producer for their offense. Delaware defensemen Riley Dohner and Ivan Sidoriak have both played in all 14 of the team’s games this season and are the team’s sixth and seventh-leading scorers, respectively. Dohner has picked up nine points (one goal and eight assists) and Sidoriak has contributed eight (two goals and six assists).

The Blue Hens’ power play has struggled this year, as it is converting at a 19.1% clip. They will have to deal with the Seawolves’ strong penalty kill. They have snuffed out 84.9% of their opponents’ power plays and have added a shorthanded goal. However, the unit has not been nearly as effective against ESCHL opponents, as it has been successful just 77.8% of the time.

Offensively, it has been feast or famine for Stony Brook. The Seawolves average 3.46 goals per game and 3.75 goals per game in ESCHL play. However, after scoring 17 goals in the Syracuse series, they only knocked in four goals in the two-game set against Pittsburgh.

Right winger Justin Nakagawa sits atop Stony Brook’s leaderboard with 14 points through 13 games played. He has scored five goals and his nine assists lead the team. Left winger Matt Minerva will return to the ice after suffering an injury against Syracuse. He leads the team with eight goals and has tallied 11 total points.

Nakagawa and Minerva are not the only forwards with scoring prowess. Center Will Kormanik and left winger Grant Ermellini have been top contributors for Stony Brook’s offensive attack. After being on the mend with a shoulder injury, Kormanik has deposited four goals and picked up two assists in four games. Ermellini has been productive as well with five goals and an assist in 10 games.

Centers Jesse Edwards and James Kozicki have been important players down the middle. Both players have scored three goals and picked up five assists this season, which places them in a tie for third on the team in points. Center Matteo Daita has been a swiss army knife for the team, as he has played all three offensive positions and added seven points (two goals and five assists).

Over the last few games, the Seawolves’ power play has found their stride. The unit has converted at a 23.2% clip this season and has been even better in league play with a 24.3% success rate. Their power play will face off against a poor penalty kill unit, as the Blue Hens have only killed 64.1% of opponents’ power plays.

Luckily for Delaware, goaltender Jacob Snellenburg has been sensational this season. He currently boasts a 1.90 goals against average and a .921 save percentage, which ranks second and fifth in the ESCHL, respectively. He has also completed a shutout this year.

The rest of the Blue Hens’ goaltending group has been lackluster, meaning Snellenburg will likely start in both games. Delaware’s other three goaltenders — Jacob King, Tyler Roesel and Griffin Iglesias — own a combined 4.95 goals against average and .860 save percentage.

With a win on Sunday, Stony Brook can potentially climb up the league standings and move into a second-place tie with No. 8 Niagara. The Seawolves will look to continue their domination over the Blue Hens, as they won all five matchups with them last year.

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