DePaul Club Hockey sweeps weekend series against Lewis


Nate Burleyson

Defender Michael Helf skating towards a puck in open ice on Friday night. Helf scored 4 goals across the two-game series.

DePaul took off on Friday night in a high-octane match with the Lewis University Flyers. Forward Zander Plotkin got the scoring going early, striking three minutes in to take a 1-0 lead. On an ideal night, DePaul could carry that lead forward and control the game. But, as anyone on the team knows, hockey rarely works that way. Goals began to slip in for Lewis. Two snipes and another goal put them up 3-1 by the end of the period.

Despite the 3-1 deficit, DePaul didn’t look rattled going into the second period. Quickly in the period, Plotkin scored again, notching his second of four total points on the night. Again though, the goal is followed up by a blow to the Blue Demons.

A Lewis player “snowed” DePaul goaltender Asher Motew, and the ensuing fight caused alternate captain Jake Bolger to be ejected from the game. Snowing is when a defender stops hard in the face of a goalie, shooting ice shavings into their face while they’re down covering a puck.

“Bolger kinda had my back,” Motew said.

Regardless of if the ejection was deserved, there wasn’t any time for DePaul to falter. After 4-on-4 hockey for two minutes as the Lewis player served his penalty, the Blue Demons had to kill the remainder of Bolger’s five-minute major. In what has become a pattern with the team — they were successful in the kill.

From there, DePaul kept it tight, with Motew making a few solid saves himself, despite not having many shots get past the solid defense. Then, forward Brock Ash scored to tie things up with 4:50 remaining in the period. 50 seconds later, DePaul took a 4-3 lead into the final 20 minutes.

DePaul took a lot of control in the second period. Their top lines were keeping the puck away from Lewis and finding their own scoring opportunities. Multiple breakaway chances for DePaul kept Lewis on their toes. Even with the loss of Bolger, the team was composed and came back to a rightful lead.

Expanding on the lead in the 3rd period was nobody other than defenseman Michael Helf. Helf was getting more breakaway opportunities, taking the puck straight from a Motew pass and rifling it past the Lewis goaltender. With 14:46 left, DePaul just had to keep that 5-3 lead clean.

Again though, just like Lewis’ lead in the first period wasn’t safe, fate struck again. A very long shot by Lewis forward Matthew Ernsting snuck past Motew to keep things interesting.

A few minutes later, DePaul found themselves facing another penalty kill, which they swept away. Then, like most of the night, when it was 5-on-5 DePaul was a level clear above Lewis. Especially Helf, who caught a rebound on the left side and sent a scorcher into the top right corner of the net.

“It felt pretty good,” Helf said. “I got off to a slow start, I think it was [Plotkin’s] shot and I got the rebound and it was an easy put back.”

Finally, DePaul didn’t falter the rest of the game. They were able to battle back from the early deficit to win 6-4 in game 1 of the series.

“I just think compared to how we started off the season when we got down and just got in our heads, we just kind of stayed loose, knew that we had it in us,” Motew said. “[Before] we had a big comeback win against Kentucky this season. We kind of know that we were able to do it.”

DePaul’s Friday night win was their third straight victory. After over a year off the ice it’s shown now that the team is back in the swing of things.

“We could have played better and we still won,” Plotkin said. “So I think we’re going into the next game pretty confident and ready to go.”

The Blue Demons returned to face Lewis on Saturday night in a tight game that resulted in a 3-2 win for DePaul, their fourth straight win, with Helf scoring two of the goals.

The Blue Demons came out flying from the first puck drop, and Helf landed the Blue Demons on the board 30 seconds into the game with a shot that flew past the Flyer’s goaltender and into the back of the net with an assist from Jackson Leptich.

“[The start was] way better than yesterday,” captain and forward Jake Camp said. “We had a lot of energy and a lot going forth, much better start.”

Lewis earned the first powerplay of the game as the Blue Demons went short-handed, but DePaul was able to kill off the penalty.

The Blue Demons had a powerplay chance of their own when two Lewis players were sent to the penalty box, giving DePaul a 5-on-3 opportunity.

However, the Blue Demons were not able to capitalize on it, and instead canceled out one of the power plays by receiving a penalty themselves. Neither team were able to do much with the chances and the first period ended with a 1-0 DePaul lead.

“We’re a team that has first-period issues sometimes,” Motew said. “So, I thought it was kind of a big morale boost to go out there, get out of the first with a 1-0 lead and go from there.”

Lewis got a power play halfway through the second period, but the Blue Demons were able to kill it off. However, the Flyers were able to send a shot past Motew to tie the game at one with five minutes left in the second period.

DePaul didn’t let that deter them, though, and when Lewis took a penalty late in the period, the Blue Demons jumped on the opportunity.

And just seconds into the powerplay, Helf had his second goal of the game with under three minutes to go in the second period.

The Blue Demons were not finished with their second-period attack on the Flyers. However, with under a minute left in the period, forward Tyler Marcelletti scored to put the Blue Demons up by two to enter the final period.

DePaul and Lewis began the third period with vigor, and both teams were much more aggressive in their play and hits. As a result, the Blue Demons ended up in the penalty box halfway through the period.

DePaul’s penalty kill was strong all night, but they were unable to kill off the powerplay and the Flyers scored to shorten DePaul’s lead back to one goal.

The number of penalties the Blue Demons took in the game is something both Camp and Motew think the team needs to work on.

“We got some penalty troubles,” Motew said. “When we play 5-on-5, we’re one of the best teams in the league.”

The Blue Demons take on Adrian University on the road on Nov. 12 and 13 before playing Aurora University on the road on Nov. 19 and at home on Nov. 20.