In their fourth game back from a month long holiday break, Mark Gonsalvesʼ Golden Rams lost 4-3 to the Blue Hens from the University of Delaware at Ice Line Friday night. This was a rematch of an Oct. 1 matchup, the season opener for both clubs, which West Chester won. Delaware, perhaps eager to erase the memory of that earlier loss, came out skating well and playing physical, keeping the puck in West Chesterʼs zone and putting constant pressure on the Golden Ramʼs defense for much of the fi rst period. Although tested frequently, the defense and goaltending stood tall early and often, managing to head into the locker room down only 1 – 0.
The Blue Hens scored just 1:49 into the second to extend their lead to 2 – 0. That goal seemed to spark the Golden Rams into action as they quickly reversed most of the play into Delawareʼs end drawing several penalties and exploding for three power play goals. Two of those three goals were put in by Captain Kevin Underwood who used his size and grit around the crease to ward off several Blue Hens defensemen and slip the puck past Delawareʼs goalie.
Josh Leachey assisted on one of Underwoodʼs tallies, the other was an unassisted goal. The third power play goal was scored on a blistering slap-shot from the point courtesy of Bobby Jones, with assists from Dan Andrzejewski and Dave Schrantz. Delaware scored with 5:19 left in the second period to even the score at three. Tempers flared before the final seconds of the second period ticked away as Delawareʼs Howard Kosel and WCUʼs Brain Saylor got tangled up with each other behind the play. Saylor was given 2:00 for roughing while Kosel lost his composure and was penalized 2:00 for roughing as well as an extra 2:00 for cross checking. West Chester failed to capitalize on this power play op portunity and the score was knotted up at three heading into the third period.
Back and forth action defi nedthe third period as both teams attempted to break the tie. Plenty of hitting along the boards by both clubs opened up some passing lanes and gave each squad several opportunities to put the game away. Another outstanding effort by Freshman goalie Jason Mardinly kept WCU within striking distance of a win, but Delaware capitalized on a slap shot from just inside the blue line at the 11:20 mark and went up 4 – 3. The Hens put in a solid defensive effort the rest of the way and pulled out a hard fought victory on the road against one of their toughest rivals.
The loss drops The Golden Rams back down to the .500 mark with 12 wins and 12 losses on the season. Solid efforts all season long by many young players as well as veterans on a team consisting of numerous underclassmen have allowed WCU to post a decent, perhaps somewhat surprising record. Despite several injuries and other setbacks the team has played very well for the most of the season and have given the fans plenty to cheer about. The fi nal month of the season should be interesting as this team continues to come together. WCUʼs season culminates with the ECHA tournament beginning Feb. 18.