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The Statesman

The Student News Site of Stony Brook University

The Statesman

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Sloppy third period costs Stony Brook hockey in humiliating loss to Drexel

Left winger Matt Minerva (29) celebrates his goal against Drexel on Thursday, Feb. 15. Minerva scored his 14th goal of the season in the 6-5 loss. ANGELINA LIVIGNI/THE STATESMAN

Despite owning a two-goal lead in the third period, it was still not enough for the Stony Brook hockey team to get the win.

The Seawolves (6-15-4, 5-5-2 ESCHL) returned to The Rinx on Thursday for a late-night game against the Drexel Dragons (13-14-2, 5-7-0 ESCHL). Despite Stony Brook’s offensive efforts, it surrendered three goals over the final 16 minutes to lose 6-5 in heartbreaking fashion.

The Seawolves started the scoring just under seven minutes in. From behind the net, left winger Matt Minerva — who played center against Drexel — sent a no-look pass to left winger Kristian Malec in the low slot, where he one-timed the puck past goaltender Ryan Nocerino.

With just over six and a half minutes remaining in the first period, the Dragons knotted the game up during four-on-four play. Drexel left winger Nick Castura led a two-on-one rush and sent the puck to left defenseman Adam Lizine, who backhanded it through goaltender Ben Monsivais’ legs and in.

On the power play, the Dragons went ahead with just 22 seconds left in the opening period. Castura received the puck at center point and wired a slap shot past Monsivais’ blocker, off the post and in.

Within the first five minutes of the second period, Stony Brook got even at two apiece. From his own zone, left defenseman Dylan Kowalsky sent a stretch pass to right winger Justin Nakagawa at Drexel’s blue line, springing him on a breakaway. Nakagawa was hauled down while shoveling the puck on net, but he knocked in his own rebound as he slid into the crease.

Nakagawa drew a penalty on the play, but the Seawolves’ power play initially did more harm than good. Just 18 seconds after tying the game, Castura forced a turnover at Drexel’s blue line to create a breakaway. Castura skated in alone and beat Monsivais on his blocker side for the shorthanded tally.

However, Stony Brook salvaged the same power play just over a minute later. From the right point, left defenseman Andrew Mancini one-timed a shot that was redirected by right winger Devin Pepe. Nocerino made the initial save, but the rebound popped free onto center Jesse Edwards’ stick, allowing him to bang it home from the left side of the crease to tie the game at 3-3.

Just 70 seconds later, the Seawolves went back in front. After corralling a bouncing puck in the offensive zone, left winger Eddie Molfetto protected it while powering down the right side. As he crashed the net, Molfetto slid the puck through Nocerino’s wickets for the first goal of his American Collegiate Hockey Association (ACHA) career.

Head coach Chris Garofalo has been pleased with Molfetto’s development in his first taste of being an everyday player.

“Eddie’s trying to be more physical,” Garofalo said in a postgame interview with The Statesman. “He’s got more tenacity this year … and he’s definitely playing with more confidence.”

A minute and a half into the third period, Stony Brook doubled its lead to 5-3. Right winger Kyle DePalma battled for a loose puck in front of the net and it squirted out to Malec. Though Malec’s shot was heading wide, it landed right onto Minerva’s stick on the right side of the crease. The misdirection of Malec’s shot had Nocerino leaning the wrong way, allowing Minerva to bury his shot into a yawning cage.

With fewer than 16 minutes remaining in the game, the Dragons sparked their comeback when Castura jammed one home to complete his hat trick and bring them within a goal.

The Seawolves protected their lead over the next 10 minutes, but with 5:30 remaining in the game, Drexel left winger Ryan Sambuco manufactured the equalizer. Sambuco stole the puck from right defenseman Nolan Towne behind Stony Brook’s net and poked it over to center Anton Kozitskiy before getting wide open in the slot. Kozitskiy hit Sambuco perfectly, who one-timed it past Monsivais’ glove.

Just over a minute later, Castura won faceoff back to right winger Matt Harris, who skated to the top of the right faceoff circle to take a seemingly harmless shot. However, the shot eluded Monsivais, whizzing past his blocker to give the Dragons a 6-5 lead that they refused to relinquish.

Garofalo did not mince his words after the game.

“Inconsistency … that’s what we are,” Garofalo said. “We don’t know how to close out games.”

Though they scored five goals and generated 42 shots on goal, the Seawolves failed to defend once again, allowing 38 shots in Monsivais’ first career start at the ACHA Division I level. Monsivais showed some positive flashes, but his inexperience was evident. He allowed six goals and produced an .842 save percentage.

Additionally, Stony Brook’s power-play woes persisted. The unit went 1-for-6 and allowed two shorthanded breakaways, one of which led to a goal. Like it has been for most of the season, the Seawolves’ penalty kill was a bright spot, going 7-for-8.

Malec and Minerva led the way offensively for Stony Brook, as they each netted a goal and recorded an assist. Nakagawa, Edwards and Molfetto’s only contributions to the scoresheet were via goals. Right defenseman Owen Larson registered two assists, while Towne, Kowalsky, Pepe, Mancini, DePalma and left defenseman Garth Swanson all tallied one each.

The Seawolves will need to have a short memory and a quick recovery, as they will start a home-and-home series with the New York University (NYU) Violets tomorrow to close out the regular season. The Violets are 10-6-4 after being swept by Rhode Island last weekend. However, it has not registered an official game against Eastern States Collegiate Hockey League (ESCHL) standings.

This year, NYU is on probation from the ACHA for violating scheduling rules last season, and its punishment is that none of its games against ESCHL competition count towards the league’s standings. It also may not compete in the 2024 ESCHL postseason tournament. 

Friday’s game is set for 9 p.m. in New York City and the series finale will take place at The Rinx on Saturday at 8:30 p.m.

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About the Contributor
Anthony DiCocco
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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