DePaul hockey’s playoff chances cut short in first round


Ryan Gilroy | The DePaulia

DePaul takes a shot on net against the Concordia Falcons in Fond du Lac, Wisconsin on Friday, Feb. 14, 2020.

FOND DU LAC, Wis. — The Northern Collegiate Hockey League playoffs began on Friday where six out of the eight teams came to play it out for the championship. Unfortunately for the Blue Demons, their run ended abruptly in the first round of the playoffs, eliminating their chances of moving on deeper into the playoffs.

DePaul’s slate began on Friday night where they faced No. 3 Concordia Falcons in a must-win game for both teams. Winner moves on and loser goes home.

Just past the halfway point of the first period, Concordia broke the ice and scored an unassisted power play goal from Wyatt Wilderman. They would tally a second goal later with two and a half minutes remaining, bring the score to 2-0 after the first.

DePaul remained hopeful to bounce back, but those hopes thinned more and more as penalties became the main issue for the team. After Gabriel D’Asto scored the Falcons second powerplay goal just past the five minute mark of the second period, another penalty cost the Blue Demons dearly.

With 11:31 remaining in the second, Concordia would strike again on the powerplay, bringing the score to 4-0 halfway through the game. After the fourth goal, DePaul Head Coach Danny Randall called a timeout to reorganize.

“This was an extremely emotional game — it was really hard to bear down and get through each period,” Brenton Wadsworth said after the game.

With three minutes left in the second, the Blue Demons efforts eventually paid off as Jack Hemmingway was able to open the score for DePaul that was assisted from Jackson Leptich. 4-1 after two periods.

With the final 20 minutes around the corner, the team knew they had to give it everything for what was ahead. Although they were able to hold off the Falcons during the third period, it was too little too late.

The Blue Demons were unable to score any goals throughout the third and skated off the ice with a 4-1 loss in the quarterfinals.

“Coming in, we’ve been preparing for this all season — they still came out and took the game from us,” Jake Bolger said. “At the end of the day, just nothing else we could do.”

DePaul put up an overall record of 12-14-1 during the 2019-20 season and finished sixth in the NCHL with a conference record of 5-8.

The long and bumpy road for the Blue Demons 2019-20 season showed a bittersweet run to the postseason. From September to February, every ounce of effort was tested as they achieved their season-long goal of making it to the playoffs. For many of the seniors on the team, it was their last time lacing up their skates to play competitively. For those who will return, the life of DePaul’s hockey team will continue to breathe for many years to come.

“We’ve got a really special group here — I love being a part of this group,” Rudy Hodgson said. “We’ve got special things coming for next season and I’m really excited to be a Blue Demon.”