The men’s club hockey team took to the ice this past weekend against the Mountain Hawks of Lehigh University. The puck dropped at 7:45 p.m. Nov. 9 when the Dragons took on a league opponent at the Class of 1923 Arena. The two teams compete in the Eastern Collegiate Hockey Association, and the last time these two met, it ended in a narrow 3-1 decision, with the Mountain Hawks claiming the victory.
The Dragons were determined to stay on the attack in this one. The first period was filled with action, as the two teams combined to score a total of five goals in the first 20 minutes of play. It was Drexel forward Carson Newton and his pivotal goal that gave the team the 3-2 advantage going into the second period.
The second period told a different story for the Dragons. The high-scoring offense that once pressed the action in the beginning of the game was now playing a bit more conservatively. But the Dragons were still dictating the pace of the game as they controlled the puck, keeping possession from the Mountain Hawks and their sharpshooting front line.
The second period didn’t showcase the high-scoring input like that of the first, but the Dragons continued to stay aggressive on the defensive end of the ice — some may say a bit too aggressive. Forward Max Stetson laid a big hit on one of the Lehigh attackers, sending him crashing into the boards. Stetson was then hit with a costly five-minute penalty for illegal checking, leaving the Dragons a man down late in the period.
But that didn’t seem to slow down the Blue and Gold, either. With less than three minutes left in the second period, forward Eric Brawley scored a short-handed goal on a breakaway as he sliced through the defenders and put the puck top shelf past the Lehigh goalie, giving the Dragons the 4-2 advantage.
With hopes of going into the third period up by two goals, the Dragons were right where they wanted to be. Those hopes were diminished when Lehigh’s Henry Brooks found an opening in the Drexel defense and charged toward the goal and put one by goalie Zach Kantner with only 1:59 remaining. The second period would close with a 4-3 lead for the Dragons.
The third period started off just like the first, with a lot of action and goal scoring. The Mountain Hawks were the first to strike, as Evan Goldstein glanced one off the post but was able to put the rebound in the back of the net just past Kantner’s glove, knotting up the score at 4-4.
Then the period continued to be a back-and-forth battle with one answering goal after another. The Dragons seemed like they were running out of time as the clock ticked away, leaving them down 6-5 with less than four minutes remaining. But the resurgent goal of Drexel forward Marco Gagliardi gave the Dragons the equalizer they needed to get themselves back into the game.
As the game looked like it was going to be sent into overtime, forward Stephen Villa tracked down the puck and passed it ahead to one of his teammates and patiently waited for his opportunity. Once he got a return pass, he took the long shot.
“The pass came, and the shot was from the point,” Villa said. “I didn’t see it go in; I only remember seeing an opening on his glove side, so I took the shot.”
If you weren’t already standing up for this game, you certainly were now. Villa’s deciding goal with only a minute left had everyone in attendance on their feet. That included his family, who traveled all the way from North Carolina to see him play.
“Having my family there to watch was very special,” the freshman said.
The Drexel men’s ice hockey team has a longstanding tradition of winning, having won four league championships in the ECHA. Given this well-earned 7-6 victory over a very tough opponent, it will be interesting to see if they can carry this momentum onto their next competition as they head to Lebanon Valley College Nov. 15 to play the Dutchmen at Hersheypark Arena.