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The Student News Site of Stony Brook University

The Statesman

The Student News Site of Stony Brook University

The Statesman

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No. 25 Stony Brook limps into winter break after being swept by Delaware

The Stony Brook hockey team celebrates left winger Matt Minerva’s goal on Saturday, Dec. 2. Minerva (left) and center Frankie Anastasio (right) were two of the Seawolves’ three goalscorers this past weekend. ANGELINA LIVIGNI/THE STATESMAN

After being shut out for the first time this season, the No. 25 Stony Brook hockey team suffered its second consecutive sweep to an Eastern States Collegiate Hockey League (ESCHL) rival.

The Seawolves (4-9-2, 3-4-0 ESCHL) ended their miserable first half nighmarishly this past weekend when the Delaware Blue Hens (9-6-1, 2-1-0 ESCHL) swept them at The Rinx. Stony Brook blew another lead en route to a 4-3 overtime loss on Saturday before convincingly dropping Sunday’s game 3-0.

The Seawolves got off to a strong start just over nine minutes into the game when their penalty kill spotted them a shorthanded tally. Center Nick Zarrilli cleared the puck out of the defensive zone with an area pass to fellow center Frankie Anastasio on the right wing, who slid it past Delaware goaltender Jacob Snellenburg to make it 1-0.

Stony Brook stretched its lead to two goals within the final minute of the first period. Anastasio collected a giveaway by Delaware center Tommy Tracy at the right wall and threw the puck toward the front of the net, allowing left winger Matt Minerva to sneak it in.

Just before the halfway point of the second period, the Blue Hens sparked their comeback on the back of their top scorer. Delaware left winger Patrick Meckel sent a pass to right winger Justin Guelph, who rifled the puck past goaltender Scott Barnikow to cut the Seawolves’ lead in half. With just over six minutes remaining in the middle frame, Delaware right winger Luke Dosen kept control of the puck through heavy traffic and curled to the left faceoff circle, where he sniped a shot past Barnikow’s blocker to tie it up.

Head coach Chris Garofalo attributes the Blue Hens’ turnaround to poor defense by Stony Brook.

“We just started watching pucks, not using our feet,” Garofalo said in a postgame interview with The Statesman. “We weren’t skating hard. We were puck-watching, that’s the problem.”

The game remained deadlocked until the 8:20 mark of the third period. Delaware entered the Seawolves’ defensive zone outnumbered on a two-on-three rush, but Dosen fought through the sea of defenders and swatted the bouncing puck through Barnikow’s leg.

With 5:21 remaining in regulation and pressure mounting, Stony Brook responded on the power play. Right defenseman Owen Larson and right winger Devin Pepe played catch at the point while looking for an opening. After spreading out the Blue Hens’ defense, Pepe found center James Kozicki in the high slot, who fired the puck over Snellenburg’s right shoulder to tie the game at three apiece.

Extra time was needed to determine a winner, and it took the Seawolves just 24 seconds to set themselves up for failure. Delaware received a power play after left winger Grant Ermellini took a hooking penalty. Stony Brook’s penalty kill survived for only 68 more seconds, as Dosen fed Tracy in the right faceoff circle, who ripped it past Barnikow’s blocker for the game-winning goal.

Despite generating 36 shots on goal, the Seawolves failed to meet their opponents offensively. They were outshot 40-36 overall and 20-11 during the third period and overtime. Garofalo believes poor defense in their own zone is also holding the offense back.

“Your offense starts in your defense,” Garofalo said. “You have to come up the ice as a five-man unit and then you have more pressure, but it starts on our end.”

Though Sunday’s game counted towards ESCHL standings, Stony Brook did not come out looking energized. With 1:24 left in the first period, Delaware center Tanner Mahoney rushed out of his team’s defensive zone and sent a pass to right winger Cody Dias. Dias stormed down the right side and placed a wrist shot past Barnikow’s glove to put the Seawolves in a 1-0 hole.

Stony Brook received two early power plays in the second period but failed to convert on either attempt. With 9:22 remaining in the period, the Blue Hens continued to dominate the Seawolves’ special teams, this time on the power play. From center point, Delaware left defenseman Riley Dohner slid the puck to Guelph in the right faceoff circle, who shot it through Barnikow and into the back of the net to double the cushion.

With just over three minutes remaining in the middle period, right winger Kyle DePalma earned a penalty shot after being tripped on a shorthanded breakaway. However, Snellenburg’s outstretched glove stoned DePalma’s shot to waste the golden opportunity.

Just over eight minutes into the final period, Stony Brook were given another chance to come back when the Blue Hens got slapped with a five-minute major on a facemask penalty. Despite being a man up for five minutes, the Seawolves squandered the opportunity.

The failed five-minute power play frustrated Garofalo, who called his team’s performance during the timeframe “terrible.”

“We couldn’t break the puck out, couldn’t get it in zone, couldn’t get net-front presence,” Garofalo said. “Every time the puck was up high, we didn’t have somebody going to the net and we didn’t get shots through.”

With 4:24 remaining in the game, Delaware put the game on ice when Mahoney zipped down the left side and found right winger Trevor Earley open in the slot. Barnikow initially denied Early, but he deposited the rebound to seal the game.

After struggling on Saturday, Stony Brook’s offensive woes were even more evident on Sunday. Though the Seawolves generated plenty of chances, they failed to bury any of their 41 shots.

Overall in the series, Stony Brook converted on just one of its nine power plays. Conversely, its penalty kill was solid, as it went 8-for-10.

In the absence of starting goaltender Matvei Kazakov — who was out with the flu — Barnikow was the Seawolves’ most consistent player throughout the series. He turned aside 71 shots of the 78 he faced throughout the weekend, which was good for a .910 save percentage.

Offensively, Anastasio led the way with two points, as he notched a goal and an assist. Minerva and Kozicki both tallied a goal. Larson, Pepe and Zarrilli all recorded an assist each.

As the losses keep piling up, Garofalo is hoping the upcoming winter break will reinvigorate his players.

“We need this break,” Garofalo said. “We need the guys to get more hungry and miss the game a little bit. I’m hoping that it re-energizes them. We have the skillset, but we need to have structure and we don’t have it.”

The Seawolves will return to action at The Rinx over the first weekend of 2024 when it takes on the No. 8 Niagara Purple Eagles. The Purple Eagles are 11-6-1 this season after a winless two-game series at Ohio this past weekend and 4-2-0 in ESCHL play. Stony Brook earned a series split at Niagara and won the league game when the teams last met in October. The series opener is scheduled for Saturday, Jan. 6 at 8:30 p.m., and the getaway game is set for Sunday at 1:30 p.m.

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