Despite being severely shorthanded from injuries, the Lions showed no signs of slowing down as they dominated their home ice this past weekend and put wins over Monmouth University and Georgetown University in the books.
Suffering collectively from shoulder, wrist, knee, ankle and several other injuries, the offensive powerhouse “purple line” — consisting of sophomore Sal DiBrita and seniors Nick Lisciandro and Kush Patel — still ran down the defense of both opponents, collecting a total of nine points over the weekend.
“I thought the entire line was really strong,” head coach Joseph Cucci said. “They led the way for us again tonight.”
Monmouth focused most of its energy on trash talking and dirty play rather than playing hockey, and a hard hit forced left-winger Lisciandro off the ice only minutes before getting slashed in the wrists — injuries that left him unsure of his ability to play Saturday’s game against Georgetown.
Nevertheless, the Lions finished with a 3-0 win off goals from Lisciandro, junior Alex D’Alessio and freshman Luke May, despite many being shut down on several breakaway opportunities by the fantastic play of the opposing goalie.
Against Georgetown, the Lions cut their Homecoming experience short to take the ice again on Saturday, Oct. 19.
Lisciandro made the last-minute decision to play despite his injuries, giving the purple line an explosive showing against a faster team than they usually play.
“He got hurt yesterday and it was gutsy effort to come out here,” Cucci said. “He wasn’t even sure if (he) was going to be able to play. He played exceptional.”
The line, yielding three goals for the College, showcased the defensive tactics of forward DiBrita, blocking shots and winning back the puck to provide forwards Lisciandro and Patel with several offensive plays.
The chemistry of Patel and Lisciandro was unbelievable, with Patel capitalizing on two goal opportunities assisted by Lisciandro.
The sixth goal of the night stemmed off of a breakaway from Lisciandro, who brought the goalie over to him while flawlessly dishing the puck off to Patel for a one-touch into the open net.
“The chemistry on offense this year is as good as I’ve ever seen it,” Lisciandro said. “I’ve been playing with Kush for three seasons now, so we’ve gotten real good at those one-touch goals.”
Lisciandro himself put one on the board during an evenly played second period at 6:28, when he beat the goalie after a play by Patel from DiBrita.
But it wasn’t just the veterans who impressed on the ice as the explosive speed of freshmen May and Will Sulpizio gave the Lions three more goals.
“With injuries to three key returners, we’re lucky that some of the freshmen like May and Sulpizio have stepped up and meshed together so quickly,” Lisciandro said. “When everyone is healthy, we have legitimate scoring threats on every line.”
May returned this weekend from a shoulder injury that he acquired two weeks ago in a game against Wagner College and showed that he was ready to be back on the ice as he grabbed two goals for the College, while Sulpizio finished with a quick catch-and-release power play goal.
The defense of the Lions proved to be strong despite two of the top defensemen being out due to injuries. Sophomore Steven Czachor stepped up to block shot after shot and senior Scott Rothlisberger contributed three assists.
The College nearly missed out on a shutout, though, as Georgetown capitalized on a goalie mistake and a defensive letdown, putting two goals into the net during the last two minutes of the game. The Lions, though, still led by four goals — an impressive showing from a game with almost even shots on goal at 31-30 in favor of the Lions.
“I loved it,” Cucci said. “This one tonight, we needed it. If we want any hope of regionals now, these games are must-wins. So I know we’re shorthanded now but we have to find a way to pull them out and we were able to with these two wins. I thought we played very well tonight.”