It was a wild Saturday of hockey during the quarterfinal round of the ECAC West playoffs.
No. 3 Hobart defeated No. 2 Manhattanville, 6-2, at Playland Casino by carrying play through the first two periods. The Statesmen outshot Manhattanville, 26-12, during those 40 minutes and built a commanding 3-0 lead.
The Valiants had to open things up in the third period to put pressure on the Hobart net, but the Statesmen took advantage and outscored Manhattanville 3-2 in the stanza. Six different players scored, and every forward line earned points for Hobart in a very balanced attack.
The Neumann/Elmira game was anything but calm, cool, and collected.
The game seemed to be following Elmira’s plan during the first 40 minutes. Darcy Vaillancourt tallied a pair of goals, one in the first and another to open the second period, and Elmira found itself with a comfortable 4-1 at home entering the third period.
An extraordinary occurrence was Neumann goaltender Ross MacKinnon being ejected from the game following Vaillancourt’s goal 29 seconds into the second period. There was a scrum in front of MacKinnon, who took exception to something and swung away. Unfortunately, the blow landed on the referee who stepped in between he and an Elmira player. Bill Foster for Neumann earned a roughing penalty and Brock Sawyer from Elmira added an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty during the same exchange.
Obviously, Elmira didn’t pay attention to Neumann’s comeback against Utica on Wednesday in the first round of the playoffs. In that game, the Knights were down 3-1 entering the third period, but roared back to beat the Pioneers, 4-3, in overtime.
Neumann followed a similar game plan against Elmira. Jordan Zalba scored just 19 seconds into the third period, and the Knights were off to the races. Ryan Dreger and Harley Garrioch tied the game 4-4 midway through the stanza, as Neumann outshot Elmira, 17-2, in the period.
Marlon Gardner took advantage of a sloppy Elmira line change 1:41 into overtime to finish off Neumann’s comeback.
The 5-4 overtime win sends Neumann to Hobart for the championship game on March 3.