DePaul hockey returns with intensity, splits with Robert Morris


Ryan Gilroy | The DePaulia

The Blue Demons returned to Johnny’s Ice House West this past weekend and split their doubleheader against the Robert Morris University Eagles on Friday and Saturday.

Friday’s game featured the Blue Demons long-awaited Hockey Fights Cancer night, as the team went onto the ice for a back-and-forth bout against the Eagles.

The first period showcased a hot start for DePaul, as they put 20 shots on goal and eventually found the back of the net from Brenton Wadsworth with just three minutes left before the end of the period.

As things looked up going into the second, Robert Morris was able to capitalize on two goals within the first five minutes of the period, tilting the ice for a contested third period and making the score 2-1.

The Blue Demons were able to tie the game at 2-2 within the first minute and a half of the third thanks to a goal from Jack Leptich. Wadsworth was able to score a second goal halfway through the 15-minute mark to give DePaul a 3-2 lead, however just 30 seconds later, the Eagles were able to net one of their own, knotting the score again at 3-3.

“We were hauling in the beginning – we were scoring goals and trying to make it as good as we could,” Wadsworth said.

Robert Morris was able to net a fourth goal with 14:20 remaining in the period to give them a 4-3 lead. As the game went scoreless for the next eight minutes, Matt Rivera was able to tie the game for the second time at 4-4, but the Eagles responded quickly again, scoring a goal less than 30 seconds later to regain a 5-4 lead.

In a desperate attempt to tie the game for a third time and possibly send it into overtime, the team pulled goaltender Rudy Hodgson with less than two minutes remaining to give themselves the extra attacker. Unfortunately, Robert Morris was able to get the empty net goal with :45 left and pull away with a 6-4 win.

Wadsworth had two goals on the night, two assists came from Mike Helf and a goal and an assist came from Rivera.

“Just a great game overall, just a few bad bounces at the end that cost us the game,” forward Jake Camp said.

Friday night saw family and friends alike in attendance for Hockey Fights Cancer night, which the team has been campaigning for since the fall. Back in November, the team launched their Hockey Fights Cancer campaign online, creating a team profile on DePaul University’s Relay For Life page. 

Since then, they’ve raised over $1,200 prior to Friday’s game, with all proceeds benefitting the American Cancer Society.

“[Hockey Fights Cancer] has been a big tradition for the DePaul hockey team where we have a game at least once a year,” Camp said. “It’s a great cause and I’m glad we got it all worked out.”

T-shirts were available to purchase that night for their ongoing effort to raise money and the team will continue their campaign, eventually leading up to DePaul’s Relay For Life event on Friday, April 24.

While Friday’s game slowly crept away from the team, Saturday’s game was a completely different story.

Amassing a total of 23 penalties for a total of 55 minutes, the Blue Demons were plagued from start to finish in what seemed to be a one-sided affair. The team didn’t let penalties get to them, as they were able to flip the weekend around and beat the Eagles on Saturday.

Both teams were unable to score in the first period but DePaul was able to kill off every penalty handed their way, going 7 for 7. 

As the intensity of the game became more prominent in the second, Brock Ash opened the scoring on a breakaway goal assisted from Helf. Later, Jack Hemmingway was able to score a shorthanded goal after getting a turnover in Robert Morris’ own defensive zone, making it a 2-0 game halfway through the second period.

Robert Morris was able to take advantage of a powerplay opportunity with seven and a half minutes remaining in the second making it 2-1, but Camp was able to come away with one of his own with 4:45 remaining, giving DePaul a 3-1 lead after two.

The third period arguably saw the most hectic gameplay of the Blue Demons entire season, as every aspect of the game kept increasing in numbers.

The Eagles were able to narrow the score to 3-2 less than five minutes into the period, but Wadsworth scored DePaul’s second shorthanded goal at the 13-minute mark, giving them a 4-2 lead as penalties continued to climb.

The highlight of the night came at the six and a half minute mark of the third, when Helf carried the puck behind the net and scored what’s widely known in the hockey world as the Michigan, giving the Blue Demons a commanding 5-2 lead.

“Hemmingway sets it low – I was just felling it, had a good scoop on it and then… yeah,” he said.

The emotionally-filled game came to a head with five and a half minutes remaining in the period, when Jake Bolger received a 5-minute major and a 10-minute game misconduct for head contact.

Even though Robert Morris was able to score a third goal with just over :30 left in the period, it was too late as DePaul was able to skate away with a 5-3 win.

While the Blue Demons were able to kill of 21 of 23 penalties, the integrity of the referee’s decision-making came into question more and more throughout the game. DePaul piled a total of 10 penalties in the third, the most out of any period in the game, while the Eagles only tallied six penalties for 12 minutes throughout the entire matchup.

“Today’s game was kind of a tough one to play through,” Rivera said. “It was a little bit tough at times, especially some [penalties] were more weaker than others, but we battled through, we played hard and at the end of the day we got the job done.”

Despite everything that was forced upon them, the Blue Demons were able to split their weekend with Robert Morris and climb the Northern Collegiate Hockey League’s standings to the seventh spot. Hemmingway and Helf each tallied a goal and an assist of their own and goaltender Asher Motew stopped 41 of 44 shots for a .931 save percentage in his first start of the season.

With six games remaining on their schedule, every game is a must-win for DePaul, as the top six teams are able punch their ticket to make it into the postseason. They sit only two points behind Robert Morris, who currently holds the sixth spot in the standings with six points.

The Blue Demons next matchup is away against the Lewis University Flyers next weekend on Friday, Jan. 24 at 7:30 p.m. and Saturday, Jan. 25 at 5 p.m at Canlan Ice Sports.