Right winger Brandon Avezov in a game against NYU on Saturday, Oct. 8. Avezov leads the Stony Brook club hockey team in points this year, and scored six of them on Friday at the Violets. PHOTO COURTESY OF AZTEKPHOTOS

After dropping three straight games, the Stony Brook club hockey team played an up-and-down series with an in-state rival.

The Seawolves (9-4-0, 6-2-0 ESCHL) split a home-and-home series with the New York University Violets over the weekend as they tried to wipe the Liberty series from memory. Stony Brook blew the Violets out of their own building on Friday with a dominant 11-2 win before losing 3-1 on Saturday at home.

Stony Brook came out flying in game one, as right winger Nick Zarrilli ripped a short side goal past goaltender Chris Caltado in the eighth minute. Just under two minutes later, center Jesse Edwards sniped a goal off the crossbar to put the team up by two.

With 1:24 remaining in the first period, the Violets found the scoreboard when forward Videep Vemulapalli netted his first goal of the season off goalkeeper Matvei Kazakov. 

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The Seawolves’ penalty kill was tested in the second period when right winger Brandon Avezov received a five-minute major. However, Zarilli potted his second goal of the game into a yawning cage. After Avezov returned to the ice, he scored his team-leading 10th goal of the season to make it 4-1 Stony Brook.

Violet forward Tommy He gave his team some life just 10 seconds later by scoring his first goal of the season. However, left winger Devin Pepe answered soon after with a goal of his own to regain Stony Brook’s three-goal lead.

The Violets pulled Cataldo in favor of goalie Daniel Onatsky to open the third period. The Seawolves gave him a rude welcome when Edwards scored his second goal of the night just 23 seconds in. The floodgates opened after that. Stony Brook scored five more unanswered goals and broke double figures. 

The Seawolves’ depth was on full display, with 13 of the 19 skaters in their lineup recording a point. The blowout victory snapped Stony Brook’s three-game losing streak. Head coach Chris Garofalo attributed the losing streak to the team’s offensive onslaught.

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“To be honest, I think they were just really frustrated,” Garofalo said in a postgame interview with The Statesman. “Obviously, it was a three-game losing streak and they just said ‘We’ve got to turn it up.’ We were crashing the net, we were putting pucks on the net. We weren’t trying to be as fancy, and that actually helped us.”

After putting 11 goals on the board in game one, the Seawolves struggled to solve Cataldo in game two. 

The Violets controlled the pace early in the first period, creating a number of chances that goalie Scott Barnikow turned away. Late in the first period, NYU capitalized on a power play opportunity when forward Mac Brice scored off an assist from forward Adam Peck.

In the second period, Vemulapalli scored a power play goal of his own to put NYU up 2-0. Both power play opportunities came on penalties from Edwards.

Stony Brook finally scored with less than a minute remaining in the second, as right winger Michael Galinski netted his second goal in his last three games. The Seawolves continued to press in the final frame, but their hopes of a comeback dwindled after defenseman Adam Svoboda scored off Barnikow. The Violets held onto their two-goal lead and secured the series split with the win.

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Special teams were a major factor this series. On Friday, Stony Brook went 4-for-5 on the power play and killed off all of its penalties. The next day, the Seawolves went just 1-for-8 on the power play and only killed three of their five penalties.

“I think tonight, we were rushing the puck,” Garofalo said. “We weren’t having as much poise. We weren’t getting pucks through to the net. I think that’s a big thing.” 

The team was without several of its key players, such as center Greg Barnych, left defenseman Andrew Mancini and left winger Kyle Nestepny. Barnych and Mancini are expected to be back on the ice for the next series, while Nestepny’s status is still unclear.

After losing four of their last five matchups, Stony Brook fell to 20 in the American Collegiate Hockey Association (ACHA) national rankings.

Stony Brook will look to bounce back this upcoming weekend with a pair of one-game series. They will host the Jamestown Jimmies on Friday at 9 p.m. On Saturday, they will head to Philadelphia for a league game against the Drexel Dragons at 7:45 p.m. 

Friday’s game will be Jamestown’s first in two weeks. The Jimmies are 6-4 overall. The last time they played, they swept Northern Illinois with a pair of shutout victories. Drexel just split a series with Rhode Island. The Dragons are 8-6-1 overall this year.

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