By Derek Jordan
The club ice hockey team ousted Delaware by a score of 7-6 on Feb. 5 and beat Westchester 8-2 on Feb. 6 at Loucks Ice Arena.
Against Delaware, Rider (10-12) started off a bit slow, with the visiting Blue Hens dominating for a majority of the game. Despite outshooting Delaware 13-5, Rider was down 2-1 at the end of the first period.
During the second, it was much of the same. The Blue Hens took it to the Broncs with speed and puck possession. Because of this, Rider took four penalties in the second period alone. Delaware made it pay, with three power-play goals for the Blue Hens and the Broncs only answering back twice. Delaware took a 6-4 lead into the third period.
The Broncs came out on fire in the third period, thanks in large part to Delaware taking a five-minute major penalty for hitting from behind in the dying moments of the second period.
Less than a minute into the third, it was sophomore defenseman J.J. Santagata who took a slap shot to cut the Blue Hens lead to 6-5.
“Coming into the third, we were in a tough position,” Santagata said. “We knew we had a long power play to start, so we just went to work. [Senior forward] Chris Daley fed me at the point. I walked the line and just teed off.”
Rider was relentless and kept at it on the man advantage. At 3:18 into the third period, sophomore forward Chris Johnson scored from inside the left circle off a feed from sophomore forward John Martino to tie the game at 6. Martino ragged the puck in the Blue Hens’ zone and set up shop behind the net.
“I noticed Delaware wasn’t really giving me much pressure down low behind the net,” Martino said. “Once I saw that, I knew I had to move the puck to the front of the net. I made a nice backhand pass between the defensemens’ legs and went right on Johnson’s tape. Once he got the puck, I knew it was going in.”
The Broncs tallied another power-play goal again at 4:08 in the third period to put them ahead 7-6. Senior forward Andrew Heinz made a shot past the goaltender with the assist coming from senior forward Pat Grilli.
Rider went on to win the game as it tightened up defensively and gave the Blue Hens nothing in their offensive zone. Freshman goaltender C.J. Lineman made 24 saves in the win.
The following day against Westchester was the Broncs’ Senior Day and the team sent its seniors away happy thanks to an early offensive onslaught by Rider.
The Broncs scored first when Heinz put one in with 12:45 remaining in the first period.
Rider held Westchester scoreless in the first two periods as it scored four goals in the first two-thirds of the game.
After two periods, Rider had the shots on goal advantage 29-10.
The team’s offense did not stop in the third period when they scored four goals, the first coming from Grilli about two minutes into the final period.
While Westchester did score two goals in the third period, it was already too late.
Rider finished the game with 43 shots on goal while Westchester could only muster 16 shots on goal.
Rider will look to take its two-game winning streak into next weekend. It will face Marist on Feb. 12 and Monmouth Feb. 14, with both games at home.