by Brian O’Neill
The Central Connecticut club ice hockey team took on Marist on Friday night, in the first game of a home series against the Red Foxes. The Blue Devils swept Marist and, coming off a 1-1 road trip last week, are now at 5-1-0 on the season.
Friday night marked the return to the Newington Ice Arena for the Blue Devils and a return to the high scoring showdowns the team had a week before.
The scoring started with Marist’s Pat Erstling beating Central’s goalkeeper with 6:48 left in the first period. The 1-0 lead lasted for six minutes until CCSU’s Andrew Mazurkiewicz found defenseman Matt Lis for a slap shot to even the score with 21 seconds left in the first.
The second period opened with an interference penalty 20 seconds in on Central, giving the Red Foxes the one-man advantage. Marist used the power play to go up 2-1, 2:36 minutes into the period. Marist struck on the power play again in the ninth minute, putting the Red Foxes up 3-1.
Just one minute later, after Marist picked up an interference penalty, Mazurkiewicz put the puck under Marist’s Justin Larkin’s leg pads to bring the Blue Devils back within 1. Central tied it up with 3:31 left in the second, with Frank Pisano catching a cross-ice pass and shooting top shelf while on a 5-4 power play. At the end of the second period, both teams had scored twice on the power play, making it 3-3 going into the third.
The scoring started seven minutes in and, again, the goal came on the power play when Central’s Kyle Leyerzapf scored on a rebound coming from Jack Johnson’s shot. Leyerzapf would find himself in the goal column again, with seven minutes left in the third — this one coming off a one timer with the first and second assists going to Mazurkiewicz and Pisano, respectively.
Leyerzapf wasn’t the only Blue Devil with a two-goal night. Lis scored Central’s final goal of the game with 4:30 left in regulation, the first even strength goal since the first period. With the score 6-3, and the Devils in the lead, Marist struck with a defection goal with only 3:27 left, bringing the Red Foxes within two.
With Marist building momentum, Central took two minor penalties with 2:07 left in the game, giving the Red Foxes a 5-on-3 power play (six with the goalie pulled) for all of seven seconds of the game.
Despite Marist doubling the amount of Central penalty killers, the Blue Devil defense and goaltending held strong, ceding no ground and closing the game with a 6-4 win. Statistically, penalties were a huge factor. With 38 minutes total (20 from Central and 18 from Marist) the effectiveness of the penalty killers and power play units ultimately decided the game.
“I think we finally started playing in the third period,” said head coach Ben Adams. “We were a little slow, sluggish to start, and we woke up in the third.”
He added: “It’s always interesting playing home and home. Very rare we play home and home and coming into tomorrow, it’s going to have to be a quick turnaround. Even though we were [penalty] killing, we had a lot of guys willing to sell out and block shots and do what it took to win, and that’s going to pay dividends tomorrow.”
The Blue Devils look to extend their two-game win streak this weekend, facing off against UConn on Friday, Oct. 17 and UMass on Saturday, Oct. 18. Both games are at home at the Newington Ice Arena.