ROCHESTER, N.Y. — In a see-saw affair, Elmira finally prevailed over Manhattanville, 4-3, in the ECAC West semifinals to move on to the championship game. Freshman Jarrett Konkle tallied two goals and an assist to lead the Soaring Eagles to victory.
“Jarrett has played tremendous for us all season,” said Elmira coach Tim Ceglarski. “He took advantage of the opportunities when the other guys went down.”
The Soaring Eagles got the game winning goal off a sweat play. Eddie Cassie carried the puck across the slot in the Valiant zone, when he backhanded a drop pass for linemate Konkle. Konkle roofed the puck past Manhattanville netminder Jon Peczka to give Elmira the lead for good.
Manhattanville had tied the game up 3-3 just 52 seconds into the third period. Dave Schmalenberg backhanded in a rebound for the power-play goal.
“[Manhattanville] has only been around for a few years, but it is turning out to be quite a rivalry,” said Ceglarski.
Elmira’s aspirations for victory looked bleak early in the second period. Just 2:33 in, Bill Cummings hit Dennis McNally with a breakout pass in the neutral zone. McNally skated into the Elmira zone and beat Ligas with a blast high over the shoulder. Manhattanville had a 2-0 lead early in the second.
Elmira started to climb back into the contest when Dean Jackson one-timed in a pass from behind the net at 4:26 while on the power play to get the Soaring Eagles on to the board, and give them a shot of confidence.
That goal got Elmira going as it dominated play for the remainder of the second period. The Soaring Eagles outshot Manhattanville 21-10 in the second, and led the game 3-2 by the end of the frame.
Elmira’s second and third goals both came off of rebounds that the Valiant defenders couldn’t clear. Konkle tallied at the 8:35 mark as he steered a rebound around Valiant netminder Jon Peczka.
Jason Cassells gave Elmira its first lead of the contest 17:46 into the period when he poked in a rebound off a breakaway by Konkle that Peczka had originally stopped.
The first period did not go as Elmira would have liked. On the first shift of the game, senior Adam Godfrey was checked against the boards and limped off the ice holding his shoulder. Just seconds later, Mike Clarke was called for an obstruction-holding penalty and Manhattanville went on the power play.
“We got off to a rough start, but our guys showed some character to come back,” said Ceglarski.
2:29 in, the Valiants converted on the man advantage to take the early lead. Garrett McNeil sent a shot from the point towards the net. Jason Kenyon deflected the puck just outside the crease past Elmira netminder Rob Ligas for the goal.
The period continued at a slow pace, which seemed to favor Manhattanville as the Valiants clogged up the neutral zone.
“We just had to fight through all of the congestion in the neutral zone,” said Ceglarski.
Midway through the period, Elmira suffered another setback. Matt Howarth was given a major and game disqualification for butt-ending. This time around, the Soaring Eagles were able to kill off the resulting five-minute power play.
“We had it, but we lost it I guess,” said Manhattanville coach Keith Levinthal. “That hurt us, not converting on more in the first period.”
Manhattanville ended the period up 1-0 on the scoreboard, but the damage to Elmira could have been a lot worse if the Valiants had been able to convert more of their opportunities.