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The Student News Site of Stony Brook University

The Statesman

The Student News Site of Stony Brook University

The Statesman


Stony Brook hockey drops must-win game against Drexel

Left winger Matt Minerva carries the puck towards the net against Syracuse on Nov. 11, 2023. Minerva scored his 10th goal of the season on Saturday at Drexel. ANGELINA LIVIGNI/THE STATESMAN

With the series getting cut in half due to weather concerns, the Stony Brook hockey team wasted an absolute must-have game.

The Seawolves (5-10-3, 4-4-1 ESCHL) traveled to Philadelphia on Saturday, where they lost 5-4 in overtime to the Drexel Dragons (9-11-2, 2-5-0 ESCHL). Stony Brook blew multiple leads in the final five minutes of regulation time, allowing them to only gain one point in the Eastern States Collegiate Hockey League (ESCHL) standings.

The Seawolves got the scoring started just under eight minutes into the first period. Left winger Kristian Malec — who spent the night playing on the right wing — chipped the puck out of the defense zone towards left winger Matt Minerva in the neutral zone. Minerva used a one-handed windmill deke to get around a defender before ripping the puck through Drexel goaltender Logan Kramsky to make it 1-0.

The Dragons responded with 3:38 left in the opening period. After a clean faceoff win in the right circle, Drexel right defenseman Ian Huver took a wrist shot from the point. Goaltender Scott Barnikow turned aside the initial shot, but the Dragons tied it up when right winger Aiden Barrett deposited the rebound while Barnikow was down and out in the crease.

Just over three minutes into the second period, Stony Brook re-established its lead. In the neutral zone, left winger Eddie Molfetto won a race to the puck and played it up to left winger Tom Liebold — who played center on Saturday for the thin Seawolves — creating a two-on-one rush. Liebold found right winger Kyle DePalma open in the slot, where he fired the puck under Kramsky’s glove and in for his first goal of the year.

With 4:09 remaining in the second period, left defenseman Andrew Mancini single-handedly extended the Seawolves lead to two. Mancini collected a loose puck from his own zone and went coast-to-coast, knifing his way through all five defenders before releasing a wrist shot past Kramsky’s blocker to make it 3-1.

In the final minute of the second period, Drexel ignited its comeback on the power play on the back of left winger Nick Castura, who entered Stony Brook’s zone by streaking from the right side. From behind the net, he centered the puck to center Anton Kozitskiy, who banged it past Barnikow.

The Seawolves survived most of the third period, but their penalty kill faltered again with just over four minutes left in regulation. From center point, Castura found right defenseman Ben Birkhahn open in the right faceoff circle. With traffic in front of the net, Birkhahn shot the puck through Barnikow to tie the game at three apiece.

With regulation winding down, Stony Brook fought hard and retook the lead. Right defenseman Owen Larson grabbed the puck in the right faceoff circle and passed it to Malec in the high slot, where he rifled a snap shot over Kramsky’s left shoulder to put the Seawolves ahead 4-3 with 1:16 left.

However, Stony Brook was unable to bring the game across the finish line. With 46 seconds left, the Seawolves sloppily played the puck behind their own net, leading to a turnover. The puck leaked out to Castura in front of the net and he buried it to send the game to overtime.

In the extra frame, the Dragons controlled play and ended the contest just over three minutes in. On a two-on-one rush, Kozitskiy sent the puck to left winger Ryan Sambuco, but he was denied by Barnikow. Barnikow thought he had the puck covered, but it was loose between his legs and Kozitskiy was there to bang it home and walk it off.

Despite scoring four goals, Stony Brook only generated 31 shots on goal in the game compared to Drexel’s 41. The Seawolves’ special teams also struggled mightily, failing to convert on all four of their power plays while surrendering two goals in four penalty kill chances.

Head coach Chris Garofalo attributed his team’s defensive woes to a lack of focus.

“We were puck watching tonight,” Garofalo said in a postgame interview with The Statesman. “We weren’t making quick and accurate decisions. We were overcomplicating things.”

Along with poor defensive play, Barnikow was not nearly as sharp as he was last weekend. He saved just 36 of the 41 (87.8%) of the shots he faced.

Offensively, Malec stepped up for the Seawolves, tallying both his first goal and assist of the season. Center Frankie Anastasio, Liebold, Molfetto, Larson and left defenseman Joey Trazzera all recorded an assist each.

As the season’s end draws closer, Garofalo stressed the do-or-die nature of this upcoming stretch of games.

“We need the whole entire team to realize that we have no more time,” Garofalo said. “We have eight more games left and if we want to have a shot at nationals, we have to go 8-0.”

Stony Brook will return to The Rinx this weekend when it takes on the No. 8 Liberty Flames. The Flames are 14-6-1 this season and have won nine games in a row. The series will open at 8:30 p.m. on Saturday before wrapping up with a 3:30 p.m. start on Sunday.

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