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The Statesman

The Student News Site of Stony Brook University

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Shootout victory at No. 20 Delaware splits series for Stony Brook hockey

Left winger Matt Minerva looks to pass the puck against Delaware on Dec. 2, 2023. Minerva scored the first shootout goal in the Stony Brook hockey team’s victory this past weekend. ANGELINA LIVIGNI/THE STATESMAN

With the Stony Brook hockey team’s back against the wall, left winger Matt Minerva and left defenseman Joey Trazzera brought home a huge two points for it.

The Seawolves (5-10-2, 4-4-0 ESCHL) split a two-game set in Newark, Del. this past weekend with the No. 20 Delaware Blue Hens (10-6-2, 2-1-1 ESCHL). Stony Brook was shut down in a 2-1 defeat on Friday before rebounding with a hard-fought 3-2 shootout win on Saturday.

In game one, the Seawolves opened the scoring with just over six minutes remaining in the first period. Right defenseman Nolan Towne skated the puck out of the defensive zone and slid it to right winger Kyle DePalma, who sent a pass to center Matteo Daita across the neutral zone. Daita stormed down the left side and rifled a wrist shot past Delaware goaltender Jacob Snellenburg’s glove to make it 1-0.

Just under two minutes later, the Blue Hens found their equalizer. After a strong defensive play in his own zone, Delaware right defenseman Ivan Sidoriak fired a breakout pass to left winger Ryan Rodrigues at Stony Brook’s blue line. After streaking down the left side, Rodrigues wired a blistering slap shot through goaltender Matvei Kazakov.

The game remained locked at one apiece until the 11:52 mark of the second period after center Nick Zarrilli was called for an interference penalty. Delaware center Dom Guido found fellow center Tommy Tracy open at center point, who ripped a seeing-eye, one-time slapper through Kazakov’s legs just as the power play expired to give the Blue Hens a 2-1 lead.

The one-goal deficit was too much for the Seawolves to overcome, as they were dominated in the third period. Stony Brook found itself on the penalty kill four times and was outshot 9-5 in the final frame.

Overall, the Seawolves struggled to establish offensive zone pressure throughout the game. They were outshot 27-15 and went 0-for-3 on the power play.

Following the loss, head coach Chris Garofalo emphasized the importance of activating the defense and driving the net in order to fuel the offense.

“We have to have our defense engaged,” Garofalo said in a postgame interview with The Statesman. “Getting traffic in front of the goalie and just finding lanes to the net with the puck. That’s a big part of it.”

After losing its fifth in a row, Stony Brook finally snapped its losing streak on Saturday in a game that counted towards Eastern States Collegiate Hockey League (ESCHL) standings.

Just over four minutes into the first period, Delaware left defenseman Jay Luce laid a vicious hit on right winger Justin Nakagawa and was called for a five-minute major and game misconduct.

After another penalty gave them a 5-on-3 power play, the Seawolves broke the ice. At the 8:10 mark of the opening frame, Towne took a wrist shot from center point that was redirected past Snellenburg by left winger Victor Nikiforov to make it 1-0.

Just over a minute and a half later, left defenseman Andrew Mancini doubled Stony Brook’s lead. After winning a board battle, center Frankie Anastasio toe-dragged around a defender and sent a backdoor feed to Mancini, who deposited the puck over Snellenburg’s blocker to double the lead.

Mancini’s return was a welcomed sight for the Seawolves. Garofalo highlighted the blueliner as being a stabilizing force on the backend.

“He helps us solidify our D,” Garofalo said. “He makes his partner play better, too, so we have the right pairings. We have guys that are now playing together that have good chemistry.”

However, the Blue Hens did not roll over. Five and a half minutes into the second period, Delaware left winger Chance DeBolt bumped the puck to Guido on a three-on-two rush. Guido knifed his way down the middle of the ice and blew a wrist shot over goaltender Scott Barnikow’s blocker to get on the scoreboard.

After pressing for the equalizer through the rest of the second period, the Blue Hens knotted the game up with 7:47 remaining in the third. Stony Brook found itself on the penalty kill after right defenseman Owen Larson committed an elbowing penalty. After Larson’s mistake, Delaware left defenseman Riley Dohner slid the puck to right winger Justin Guelph in the high slot, who hammered a wrist shot through traffic and past Barnikow to tie the game 2-2.

The score remained unchanged through the rest of regulation and overtime, leaving a shootout to decide the game. After a sprawling glove save by Barnikow on Guido to kick off the skills competition, Minerva faked out Snellenburg with a crisp backhand-forehand move and buried his shot to put the pressure on the Blue Hens. Barnikow then stoned Dohner, allowing Trazzera to skate down the ice and rip one wide of Snellenburg’s right to win the game.

Though there were some hairy moments throughout the contest, Garofalo was relieved to capture a much-needed victory.

“We’ll take small wins, we’ll take big wins,” Garofalo said. “We just have to get back on track. Hopefully, this will give us some momentum.” 

Despite only netting two goals and being outshot once again on Saturday, the Seawolves were much better on their offensive end. They generated 34 shots on goal and capitalized on one of their four man-advantage opportunities.

Once again, Stony Brook’s goaltending was its bright spot. Kazakov turned aside 25 of the 27 shots he faced on Friday for a .926 save percentage, while Barnikow saved 34 of the 36 shots he faced (94.4%) and stopped two shootout attempts on Saturday.

On the offensive side, Nikiforov (one goal and one assist) and Towne (two assists) co-led the team with two points apiece this weekend. Daita and Mancini tallied a goal each, while both Minerva and Trazzera added shootout markers. Minerva, DePalma and Anastasio all registered one assist.

Throughout the weekend, the Seawolves’ penalty kill unit was outstanding, as they killed off 11 of their 12 opportunities. On the other side of the special teams spectrum, their power play converted on just one of their seven chances.

Stony Brook also lost a couple of key players due to injuries over the weekend. Right winger Devin Pepe missed Saturday’s game with a medial collateral ligament sprain and center Jesse Edwards is in concussion protocol after taking a high hit on Friday. Garofalo said that Nakagawa appears to be healthy after being knocked out of Saturday’s game.

The Seawolves will look to build off their victory next weekend when they take on the Drexel Dragons in a home-and-home series. The Dragons are 8-11-2 this season and 1-5-0 in official ESCHL games. The series will begin at 7:30 p.m. at The Rinx on Friday before wrapping up at 5:30 p.m. in Philadelphia on Saturday. Both games will count towards the league’s standings.

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About the Contributor
Anthony DiCocco, Assistant Sports Editor
Anthony DiCocco is an Assistant Sports Editor at The Statesman. He is a sophomore majoring in journalism with aspirations of becoming a sports journalist. His love of sports derives from years of playing dek hockey and watching his favorite teams, the New York Islanders, New York Mets and New York Jets. He is the beat reporter for Stony Brook’s hockey and softball teams. He has also covered football, men’s lacrosse and men’s soccer. He was previously the Editor-in-Chief of his high school newspaper the Devil’s Tale at Plainedge High School. He is a local product from North Massapequa, N.Y.
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