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The Statesman

The Student News Site of Stony Brook University

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Stony Brook hockey opens second half at No. 20 Delaware

Center James Kozicki (70) celebrates his goal with his teammates on the sideline against Delaware on Dec. 2, 2023. The Stony Brook hockey team returns to action this weekend against the Blue Hens. ANGELINA LIVIGNI/THE STATESMAN

After having its winter break extended an extra week due to travel concerns, the Stony Brook hockey team will return to action with hopes of turning its season around.

The Seawolves (4-9-2, 3-4-0 ESCHL) will travel to Newark, Del. this weekend for a two-game set against the No. 20 Delaware Blue Hens (9-6-1, 2-1-0 ESCHL). The series will begin with a 7:30 p.m. puck drop on Friday before wrapping up with a 6 p.m. start time on Saturday. Only Saturday’s game will count towards Eastern States Collegiate Hockey League (ESCHL) standings.

Throughout the season, Stony Brook’s goaltending has struggled to find consistency. Through nine games, goaltender Matvei Kazakov is averaging 30.6 saves per game but owns a .902 save percentage. Despite being the team’s backup, goaltender Scott Barnikow boasts better numbers, posting a .912 save percentage and 28.9 saves per game. Both goaltenders possess high goals against averages, as Kazakov sits at 3.93 for the season while Barnikow owns a 3.52.

As a team, the Seawolves have struggled to keep the puck out of their defensive zone and limit chances. They have allowed 4.07 goals and 40.6 shots per game. Against league opponents, Stony Brook has been a bit better defensively, as it has allowed 3.5 goals against per game.

Fortunately for the Seawolves, they will have their top blueliner back in left defenseman Andrew Mancini, who has missed the past six games due to a head injury. Mancini has tallied two goals and three assists for five points through nine games thus far while also playing solid defense. During his absence, Stony Brook allowed 4.33 goals per game. However, the defensive core will be without left defenseman Spencer Boris, who left the team before the final game of the first half.

The Seawolves’ defense will match up against a well-rounded Delaware offense. The Blue Hens have six players that have reached the double-digit point mark and two players that are averaging at least one point per game. Over their last four games, they are averaging 5.25 goals scored.

At the forefront of the Blue Hens’ offensive attack is right winger Justin Guelph. Through 14 games this season, the rookie leads his team with nine goals, 11 assists and 20 points.

Left winger Ryan Rodrigues and right winger Luke Dosen are also catalysts for Delaware’s offense. Rodrigues co-leads the team with 11 assists and is second on the team with 16 points. Dosen sits just behind Guelph with eight goals and is third on the squad with 14 points.

Delaware centers Tanner Mahoney and Tommy Tracy have stepped up for Blue Hens this season, as well. Through 16 games, Mahoney has contributed six goals and 13 points while Tracy has notched five goals and 12 points.

Delaware’s defensive core has also been big contributors to its offense. Right defenseman Ivan Sidoriak has totaled 11 points this season, tallying two goals and nine assists. Left defenseman Riley Dohner ranks fourth on the Blue Hens with eight assists and has also added a goal.

Despite its deep offensive lineup, Delaware’s power play has not found the same success. According to the American Collegiate Hockey Association’s (ACHA) website, the unit has converted on just 11 of its 60 opportunities for a 18.3% clip. It will have to go toe-to-toe with a strong Stony Brook penalty kill that has been successful at an 84.1% clip this season. It has also notched a pair of shorthanded goals. However, the unit has not been as effective against ESCHL opponents, killing just 78.4% of penalties in those matchups.

On the offensive end, it has been up and down for the Seawolves. The team has scored 3.2 goals per game and 3.3 goals per game in ESCHL play. During its ongoing four-game losing streak, Stony Brook has scored just seven goals and suffered a shutout its last time out.

The Seawolves will be without two of their best goalscorers for the remainder of the season, as center Will Kormanik and left winger Grant Ermellini both underwent season-ending surgeries. Through 12 games, Ermellini is tied for second on the team with five goals and finished his rookie ACHA season with six points. Kormanik played in only seven games this season, but tallied four goals and seven points. Center Nick Gallo, who tallied four assists through eight games, has withdrawn from the University and is no longer with the team, as well. As for right winger Max Zarkhin — who was a top recruit this past offseason — the team confirmed that he left the squad several weeks ago and will not return.

Despite some of Stony Brook’s offensive struggles, its forward group is headlined by a pair of stars in right winger Justin Nakagawa and left winger Matt Minerva. Nakagawa leads the team with 9 assists and 14 points through 15 games played and his five goals are tied for second. Minerva has been the Seawolves’ best goalscorer, as he has deposited nine through 12 games.

Centers James Kozicki and Jesse Edwards have both been key contributors down the middle for Stony Brook. Kozicki has registered four goals and five helpers through 15 games. Edwards has added three goals and five assists through 14 games.

Centers Frankie Anastasio and Matteo Daita have also been key pieces for the Seawolves. Anastasio has played 10 games this season, picking up two goals (both shorthanded) and five assists. Daita has played all three forward positions and has provided them with a spark, notching two goals and five assists through 14 games.

Right winger Devin Pepe and center Nick Zarrilli have both had down years, but the team’s co-captains will look to produce more in their final collegiate semester. Pepe has just two goals and four assists in 15 games. Zarrilli has scored just once and added two helpers in 14 appearances.

On the blue line, right defenseman Owen Larson has emerged as point producer. His five assists are tied for second on the team and he has also deposited two goals. Right defenseman Nolan Towne has also been good and will likely move to the left side for the rest of the season due to Boris’ defection. Though Towne only has one goal this season, he has picked up five assists.

Stony Brook’s power play unit has been respectable, as it has converted at a 21.5% clip overall and 21.7% in league action. It will face off against Delaware’s struggling penalty kill that has only been successful 70.6% of the time.

The Seawolves’ offense will have a difficult test, as Delaware goaltender Jacob Snellenburg has been outstanding this season. Through 10 games, Snellenburg has sparkled to a 1.81 goals against average and a .933 save percentage, which both rank second in the ESCHL according to the ACHA’s website. He sports a 6-2-1 record and has recorded two shutouts, including one against Stony Brook.

Though Snellenburg has been dominant, the Blue Hens’ other goalies have not been nearly as effective. The trio of Delaware goaltenders Tyler Roesel, Griffin Iglesias and Jacob King have combined for a 3-4-0 record, .860 save percentage and 4.95 goals against average. However, Snellenburg started both games of the previous series against the Seawolves, so they may not get lucky.

With a win on Saturday, Stony Brook can move into a second-place tie in the ESCHL standings with both Niagara and Delaware. Also, by beating a higher-ranked opponent, the currently-unranked Seawolves may be able to move back into the ACHA’s top 25.

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