1/17/2013 1:14 PM
UMBC Ice Hockey came into the new year on a 4 game win streak, they also knew that taking all 4 points against MACH South rival Delaware would clinch a berth in the Mid-Atlantic Collegiate Hockey Playoffs at the end of the season.
Saturday night yielded a trip north to Delaware for a prime-time matchup. Coming out of winter break the big question was, how would the boys’ legs be? For a majority of the first period UMBC controlled the flow of play, but were sloppy on the puck and couldn’t generate much offense. The breakthrough would come on a power play opportunity late in the first. Dan Durantaye (Ellicott City, MD) took a rebound off the back wall and banked his shot off the Delaware netminder to give the Retrievers a 1-0 lead going into the break.
After talking it over between period, UMBC came out for the second period on fire. Sean O’Connor (Stony Point, NY) scored two goals 44 seconds apart to quickly extend the lead to 3-0, Zac Tracy (Marriottsville, MD) scored another midway through the period to make it 4-0. Then back to back penalty calls on the Retrievers yielded a 5-on-3 power play for the Fighting Blue Hens, Delaware would convert on the opportunity and cut the lead to 4-1 with five minutes remaining in the middle stanza. Tracy answered with his second goal of the night, and Durantaye duplicated his first goal to put UMBC up 6-1 with only 20 minutes left to play.
The third period began much as its predecessor did, with Tracy scoring less that a minute into the frame, giving UMBC a 7-1 lead, and completing his hat trick. The remainder of the third period went without much incident as the Retrievers put it in cruise control. When the clock reach 0:00, the final score read UMBC 7 Delaware 1.
Jon Drago (Guttenberg, NJ) made 25 saves for the victory. O’Connor factored in on every goals registering 2 goals and 5 assists, Alec Hanock (Calabasas, CA) also recorded 5 assists, and Tracy finished with 4 points.
Sunday’s contest came from the friendly confines of the Reisterstown Sportsplex. Much like the previous night’s contest, UMBC and Delaware remained deadlocked throughout the first period despite UMBC controlling play. And once again late in the opening period, the Retrievers would break through. Brandon Fritz (Walled Lake, MI) won an offensive zone faceoff, then corralled a loose puck in front and score with 42 seconds remaining in the first to give UMBC a 1-0 lead after one.
This time Delaware responded quickly, getting an equalizing goal early on the middle frame to tie the game at 1. Later in the period, Dan Armstrong (Bethesda, MD) gave UMBC back the lead at 2-1 after receiving a pass in the high slot and beating the Delaware goaltender. Delaware would once again respond quickly, this time on the power play and the score was tied once again at 2 just 57 seconds after Armstrong gave the Retrievers the lead. The score would remain deadlocked at 2 until Tracy got a 2 on 1 opportunity with just over a minute left in the period. He placed his shot just under the goalie pad to the far side, giving UMBC a 3-2 advantage heading into the third.
With the game still in the balance and not yet decided, a play from an unlikely source put the game out of reach. Ben Rafferty (Amherst, NH) took a pass in the defensive zone and led the rush up ice. When in the offensive zone, Rafferty made a toe drag move to create a shooting lane, then sniped a shot beating the goaltender high to the glove side. The goal put UMBC up 4-2 just 1:48 into the third period. The game continued at the same score-line until the start of Saturday’s game put the icing on the cake. Captain Nik Jost (Grosse Point Park, MI) fired a shot from the point that hit Hanock in front, the rebound fell to O’Connor who deposited the puck in the back of the net. The clock read 6:01 remaining in the third period, with the score 5-2 UMBC. The clock ticked down finally to the end of the game with UMBC victorious and a MACH playoff berth secured.
Trevor Miller (Macomb, MI) made 27 saves for the victory. The MACH Playoffs will be held in Abingdon, MD February 15-17, more information will follow as it becomes available. UMBC is now 3-0-1 all-time vs Delaware’s Division II program.