NEWARK, Del. — The coaching staff only expected their team to go .500 on the season. All they wanted was to be able to be happy with how the first year went.
“They have exceeded our expectations as far as the team goes,” said Oxford coach Andrew Wehner. “We were hoping to go .500 and have a winning season. To go into the playoffs and win our first playoff game is definitely awesome.”
Being the first season in a long time for Oxford’s hockey program, the playoffs were a new territory for the players.
“It’s really nerve-wracking, but exciting,” said Dylan Kane.
Oxford had two weeks off between its last game of the regular season and the start of the playoffs, which concerned head coach Harry Giovan.
But his team put his worries to rest as they scored a goal early into the game from Kane.
“We came out with a lot of energy and fought through a lot of uncertain play,” Wehner said. “In the end, we got it done. We protected a shutout for Ryan Snowden and we had a couple boys really step up. Dylan Kane and Bryce Lindsay really got it done for us tonight.”
Kane accounted for three of Oxford’s four goals on the night, including a short-handed on late in the second period.
“I couldn’t have done it without the team, though, with the assists,” he said.
Snowden stepped up once again in the game, stopping all 21 shots he faced, continuing on his shutout streak from a 2-0 win over Kennett in the last regular season game.
The win and the shutout will help Oxford’s confidence heading into the semifinals, where they will face a tough task in No. 1 Delaware Military Academy (DMA).
“It feels really good because it will give us an advantage getting excited for the next game,” Kane said.
No matter if its opponent was the DMA or Avon Grove, Oxford’s goal is still the same.
“I don’t think it matters who we face in the next round,” Wehner said. “We’re just going to come out and play our game and stick it to them.”
After having such a good regular season, he felt his team came out without the motivation it needed, but were lucky enough to come away with the win against No. 6 Appoquinimink.
“It was not our best game,” O’Dowd said. “They’re going to have to play a lot better to beat Avon Grove on Friday night. They’re going to have to shake that effort off and play a lot sharper.
“Quite frankly, we didn’t play very well defensively and we didn’t pass the puck very well. That’s not going to get the job done against Avon Grove.”
Luckily for No. 3-seeded Kennett, goaltender Sean Edmonds was on top of his game, stopping 18 shots, some when he was left hanging out to dry.
Some of the Blue Demons players had flashback to last season when they were upset by Hodgson, who was lower than them in the rankings.
“It was a big upset,” said Kennett’s Ryan Johnson, who had two goals in the game. “It’s nice to get the win and hopefully we’ll win on Friday, too.”
Kennett held a 4-0 lead over Appoquinimink just over two minutes into the third, but watched the game slip from their fingers.
After a second goal got by Edmonds with 3:34 left in the game, it was a wake-up call for Kennett.
“You could feel it on the bench that we let them back in the game,” O’Dowd said. “We should have never let them back in. These kids can play a lot better than that.”
But Kennett was able to hold off Appoqunimink and will now face No. 2 Avon Grove in the semifinals.
“They were coasting is this game and you can’t take any team for granted,” O’Dowd said.