WEST SPRINGFIELD, Mass. — Iona skated to a 4-2 victory in MAAC action at the Olympia Ice Center Saturday afternoon, dashing American International’s hopes of a second MAAC playoff berth in three seasons.
The Gaels, powered by John Gilbert’s three-point night, still ended up the as third seed in the tournament after Quinnipiac’s win versus Holy Cross Saturday. Fairfield edged AIC for the final tourney bid with a 7-5 victory over Canisius.
After the two teams skated through a scoreless first period for the second straight night, Iona took the lead with a goal from sophomore Mark Hallam at 14:26 of the second period. The Gaels made it a 2-0 lead before the intermission as sophomore Gilbert tucked the puck past AIC senior goaltender Chance Thede with just 29 seconds remaining.
With word of the Fairfield victory, AIC stormed out of the gates in the third period and pulled within one when junior Olivier Gagnon tucked a rebound past Iona goaltender Mike Fraser just 2:36 into the final stanza.
AIC continued to pressure the Gaels’ net, and it resulted in a breakaway the other way as sophomore Ryan Manitowich regained Iona’s two-goal margin at 12:44.
Manitowich broke the Yellow Jackets’ back at 18:52 with an empty-net goal to seal the victory.
AIC senior Tom Cogan registered a goal with eight seconds remaining in regulation in his final collegiate game to close out the scoring on the afternoon.
Thede capped his stellar AIC career with 36 saves on the afternoon, making several grade-A stops in the game. He finished the season with a school-record 1,001 saves this year and a school-record 3,014 for his career.
Fraser stopped 24 shots on the afternoon for Iona.
In addition to his goal, Gilbert also added two assists for Iona, as did senior Adam Bouchard.
The Gaels (17-12-4, 16-6-4 MAAC) return to action next weekend, hosting Sacred Heart. AIC rounds out its season at 10-20-1 overall, 10-15-1 in MAAC play.