Prior to the VU Hockey Club’s Friday night faceoff against Emory this past weekend, freshman Jordan Zauderer asked coach Thomas Bernstein for a prediction.Â A tradition dating back to his days playing high school hockey back in Pittsford, NY, Jordan was adamant that Bernstein take a position.
“Of course I’m going to say we’re going to win,” he responded in a tone that suggested equal parts caution and confidence.Â “5 – 3, we pull out a close one.”
If only he had doubled down.
In its second road trip of the 2010-11 season, the Commodores notched two 5 – 3 victories, one Friday versus the Emory Eagles and another Saturday versus the University of Georgia Bulldogs.Â It was exactly the way the Chilled Commodores were hoping to punctuate their season at the halfway point – i.e., with two strong performances en route to securing a record of eight wins versus a single loss on the year.
Friday Night Alright For A The Jack Attack
Jack Delehey (a.k.a., the “Energizer Bunny” as dubbed by freshman Mike Nisbet) notched a hat trick, the first of his young Vanderbilt hockey career, on assists from Evan “Pennies” Sclafani, Kyle McCann, and Tom Trepanier to power VU in its Friday win versus the Eagles.Â Combined with his work on the penalty kill and back-check, Delehey was a one-man wrecking crew that Emory had no answers for.
“Jack has the spirit of 1,000 Christmases inside of him,” noted Sclafani, a freshman who made his debut on the defensive line to rave reviews from scouts and fans in attendance, following Delehey’s third goal of the game.Â Given the context of the comment, one can only assume that that is a good thing.
Rounding out the scoring was Sclafani and Alan Leeser, another freshman who offered valuable minutes at left wing on the first line.
A Late Game Explosion
In what was by far the most exciting contest of the season thus far, Saturday’s game versus Georgia witnessed a seesaw battle that remained tight well into the third period.
Continuing his heroics from Friday, Delehey opened scoring in the first period with a beautiful off-angle, top-shelf slapper.Â Then, following two goals by Georgia that left VU down 2 – 1, sophomore transfer sensation Kyle McCann rifled in an equalizer to knot the game at two apiece.
At that point it was clear the game was on track for an exciting finish, one way or the other.Â A 2 – 2 tie.Â On the road.Â An SECHC conference rival in the Bulldogs.Â Media in attendance ( … thanks to Jim Davis from HockeyY’all.com for stopping by).Â The moment was enormous … and then it got bigger.
Georgia goal.Â 3 – 2. 8:54 remaining.
It was the first time in the 2010-11 season that the ‘Dores had faced any degree of late-game urgency.Â Coach Bernstein wondered how they would respond given the uncharted territory.Â “Following that goal, I just asked everybody, ‘Isn’t this great?’Â A tight hockey game on a Saturday night on the road … I was having a blast and wanted to remind them that this was why we all signed up for the club.”
The ‘Dores went out and definitely had a bunch of fun, pouring on three goals in the final nine minutes, two by senior captain Peter Dignard and one by Trepanier, to secure the win.
“Boy, that was awesome,” said junior goalie Brenden Oliver who had another terrific game in net.Â “We definitely wanted this one … just a great team effort.”
The Story Beyond The Stats
Lost on Saturday’s score sheet were two items of note.Â The first was the impact that junior Nathan Tardiff and graduate student Ben Loss had on the game.Â Both defensemen, Tardiff and Loss elevated the ‘Dore’s physical play while anchoring a stout attack in front of Oliver in net.Â Along with Dignard, their decision to make the trip on Saturday contributed largely to the game’s positive outcome.
The other item of note was a near-miss-that-really-wasn’t-near off the stick of one Thomas Trepanier.Â In the closing minutes of the second period, Kyle McCann made a furious rush up ice, slashing and toe-dragging his way towards the net.Â After finally getting knocked off the puck, McCann made a brilliant pass in front to Trep which left the junior alone with the puck and the net.Â No goalie, no defensemen … just one man and a surefire goal.
“All I could see was net,” said Loss who was skating up ice from the other end of the rink.Â “Never seen a more wide open chance in my life.”
You can guess the rest based on the scoring recap.Â Wide right.Â Shame.Â Audible laughter from the bench.Â Jokes between periods.Â Nightmares following the game.
Asked for comment, Trep simply said, “Ugh.”
The Good Times Roll On In December
Looking ahead, the club will be back on the ice (and the road) versus Louisville on December 3rd and 4th.Â For more information, please reach out via the contact form on this website.Â In the meantime, on behalf of the entire club – players, parents, and “staff” included – we thank everyone for your continued support of the team this year and look forward to a fun and entertaining second half of the season.Â Hope to see everyone at the rink!