The Drexel Dragons came into the 2011-2012 ECRHA regular season hoping for big things with a line-up consisting of 9 new players, 5 of which were freshman. Coach Kyle Defelice was in his first season of coaching after leading the Dragons within a win of the National Championship Tournament the past season. Expectations were high after a solid showing at the Pre-season tournament.
The first event of the season at Marple Sports Arena, Drexel came away with a tough 7-5 loss against Queens College, followed by a disappointing 9-2 blowout against Binghamton, only to be shocked 4-2 by a hard-working Cornell team.
Frustration mounted as the team moved onto Feasterville, posting another tough 4-2 defeat at the hands of Boston University. In the next game, it seemed as though the Dragons had turned a corner, by routing a solid Albany team 7-1. However, they came out flat against U-Mass Amherst in an 8am Sunday morning game, being routed themselves 10-2.
After finding out the Coach Defelice needed to step down due to work-related issues, Drexel traveled to Harrisburg, Pa, facing off against top-ranked Slippery Rock and Pittsburgh. The ride was not kind to the Dragons as they lost 9-0 and 11-2 respectively. The Harrisburg tournament also marked the return of Brian Smith to the Drexel bench. Smith’s Dragons began to turn it around on Sunday, beating Shippensburg 5-3 in a game where the score did not show the domination Drexel displayed. In the afternoon, they matched up against rival, Delaware in a closely contested game. Drexel led by 3 going into the 3rd period, but lost their composure and ended up with a 5-5 tie.
The second half of the season marked a tough and packed schedule for the Dragons. All-star weekend in Feasterville had Drexel playing some of their best hockey of the season. An 11-0 win over Millersville started it off, which led to a 4-4 tie with Vermont. Late that evening, Drexel hosted Northeastern in a rematch of last year’s ECRHA quarterfinals. Northeastern squeaked by a last minute goal in the rematch to beat the Dragons 2-1. Drexel lost another tough game to Scranton the next day by the same score.
The final tournament of the season saw Drexel skate into Sewell, NJ playing for pride as their playoff hopes had been eliminated. Drexel lost another 8am game, 9-1, to a fast and physical Queens College team. After getting the forfeit win against Cornell, Drexel played Binghamton to a 4-1 loss. The last game of the season came against Delaware, a team that they have tied since Delaware moved up to Division II in 2010. The Dragons came out early and went up 3-1. Delaware evened the score at 3-3 halfway through the game, until Jim “Day Day” Litchkowski slipped in a 5-hole goal in the breakaway to give Drexel the 4-3 lead. They wouldn’t look back, as John Kundrat added the insurance marker in the 3rd period giving Drexel it’s first ECRHA win over the University of Delaware.
The 2011-2012 ECRHA Season was a dissapointing one of the Dragons, but they showed a solid imrpovement in the second half, despite playing with so many Freshman and Sophomores. The young players need to step up next year with some big performances, hopefully leading Drexel back to the ECRHA Regional Championships and onto the 2013 NCRHA National Championships.