Men’s hockey kicks off season, defends title 2-0

Rachel Ruecker, Deputy Social Media Editor

After their national championship win last season, hockey is back at NYU. This weekend saw the team back in action in home games this Friday and Sunday. The games — their first two of the season — were particularly emotional due to senior goaltender Sam Daley’s return to the team following surgery to remove a brain tumour that cut his junior year with the Violets short.

Friday featured the Violets taking on the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute Engineers at the Sky Rink at Chelsea Piers. From the drop of the puck, the game was extremely physical, bordering chippy at times.

The Violets got on the board early, with freshman Keaton Baum scoring just 54 seconds in, with the assist from freshman Mason Gallegos. The lead increased to two when junior David Shaby got one past RPI goalie Spence Whitehead. Shaby was assisted by senior Beau Lardner and junior David Morgan. Penalty minutes added up as NYU got two for tripping, leading RPI to a late powerplay goal to cut the NYU lead in half to close off the first period. Shots were 15-7 for NYU at the frame’s close.

The second period saw tensions rise when RPI eked out another power play goal just 4:22 into the frame, tying things up. Penalties continued to be exchanged. At 13:56 Michael Conslato finished a beautiful setup from sophomore Steven Esposito and freshman John Kowalewski.

On the powerplay, once again, freshman Hamilton Whyte scored to put NYU back up by two with 12:29 remaining. The lead was extended yet again before the period’s end with senior forward Denis O’Hara netting the Violet’s fifth goal on the night at 11:01.

The Violets began the third shorthanded, thanks to a penalty junior Peter Jorgensen had to take to stop a last ditch RPI effort in the second period. The game went from a sure thing to a nail biter 7:58 into the period when RPI got within one on that power play. NYU had a chance to extend their lead back to two when O’Hara had a breakup and was tripped up for a penalty shot, but Whitehead closed the door. Luckily for the home crowd, the one goal lead remained at the game’s end.

“Our first game with such a new team went well – we won, but there’s so much room for improvement,” Shaby said. “Although we had a lot of energy going into each period, we took multiple bad penalties that definitely slowed us down.”

The Violets completed the opening weekend sweep against the Siena College Saints. Sunday’s effort saw NYU once again frequently in the box, but their offensive skill negated any unruly penalties. They were down early as Siena scored just 3:21 in on the powerplay, but the Violets came roaring back, with freshman defenseman Connor Finocchio netting the first goal of his career with 8:50 remaining to tie the game. Senior defenseman Curtis Fisher pitched in with the assist.

Shortly thereafter NYU pulled ahead. Esposito scored with 3:08 left in the frame, with apples from the tandem of Conslato and Kowalewski.

The Violets saw two big unassisted goals from O’Hara and Esposito — for his second on the night — to bolster their lead to 4-1 at the second period’s end. But with the game well in-hand, they were still not done.

Just 21 seconds into the third period, the trio of Conslato, Kowalewski and Esposito increased the lead even further. That same trio teamed up on the powerplay to score NYU’s sixth of the night and less than a minute later, O’Hara got another.

The dominance kept on going as freshman Harrison Whyte found the back of the net with help from Finocchio with 7:47 left in the game. That goal took the score to 8-1, where it remained for the rest of the contest.

The Violets will be back in action, as they continue work toward reclaiming their National title, on Oct. 10, facing off against UMass at the Mullins Centre in Amherst.

A version of this article appeared in the Oct. 5 print edition. Email Rachel Ruecker at [email protected].