GENESEO, N.Y. — The “home” team won despite playing on the road.
Trinity defeated Geneseo, 4-0, in the NCAA Quarterfinal round in the Ira S. Wilson Ice Arena as Doug Kisielius recorded his first shutout of the season. Trinity, the higher seed, was forced to play its home game at Geneseo due to not having a rink to host the game.
“This team has played well on the road,” Trinity coach John Dunham said. “We haven’t lost a game on the road this year. It’s very important to get the first goal in front of a hostile crowd.”
That first goal came midway through the opening period on a Thomas Wenstrum shot from the left point. A hard, low shot that a partially screened Brett Walker couldn’t stop, snuck just inside the far post.
“Tom had that shot from the point right through the screen hit the far corner and that really got us going,” Dunham said.
“Once the puck bounced out, I didn’t want to waste a situation in a game like this especially that early in the game,” Wenstrum said. “Luckily we got the first goal of the game.”
“That first goal had eyes on it,” Geneseo coach Brian Hills said.
Both teams came out more than willing to take the body, especially Geneseo’s Steve Sankey who hit everything he saw in gold.
Trinity had the better opportunities in the first including a pair of two-on-ones. The first involved Cameron Finch and Simon Dionne, with Finch taking the shot. The second time again involved Finch, but this time he passed to Ryan Stevens who fired it at Walker. Both times Walker came up with a solid save and covered up.
Though the shots were even at eleven apiece in the opening period, Walker was called upon to make the harder saves, once again providing his team the opportunity to win the game.
Kisielius was called upon to make some tough saves as well, but it was the goalie’s favorite friend, the crossbar, that made the biggest save of the period.
The second period saw the tide start to change as Geneseo applied more pressure on Trinity. Chris Tarr found himself all alone on the side of the net. However, despite three successive shots, he was unable to get one by Kisielius.
Trinity got another two-on-one as John Halverson carried the puck in with Kevin Hathway on his left side. Halverson took it in himself, but his shot was once again stopped by Walker.
On the last Geneseo power play of the second period, Mitch Stephens fired a bullet from the right point with traffic in front. Kisielius saw it all the way and made a great glove save as Stephens rolled his head back in agony.
“We got lots of shots at him,” Stephens said. “Some real good quality chances. He just seemed to get the body in front of everything tonight. We just couldn’t seem to catch a break and find a way to get it by him.”
The score remained 1-0 heading into the third period.
After a long delay waiting for the ice to dry before the third period started, Trinity appeared to catch the Ice Knights sleeping. Adam Ladd won the center ice faceoff, and Bryan Crabtree quickly brought the puck into the zone on the right side. Crabtree then let go of a seemingly harmless wrist shot that somehow fooled Walker on the glove side.
The power play goal came just six seconds into the final period.
Said Dunham: “To start the third period we ran a play off our power play where we line up two forwards as defensemen and we shot the two forwards through the gap. It’s the first time we scored a goal off that play, so it couldn’t have come at a better time.”
“Like coach said, we ran a play,” Crabtree said. “The two of us broke in. Coach has been telling us all week, ‘Just fire pucks. Put the puck on the net and something will happen.’ Caught the goalie leaning to the blocker side and put the puck into the corner.”
Trinity nearly made it 3-0 just as quickly, as Halverson had a point-blank shot in front that Walker smothered.
Geneseo had its chances in the third period.
About four minutes in, Trent Cassan carried the puck in on a two-on-none breakaway. He had intentions of keeping the puck all along, patiently approached the goal, picked his spot, and fired it to the far side beating the goalie. It bounced harmlessly away off the goalpost.
“The big point was when we had that turnover,” Dunham said. “And they had the two on none and they hit the post. I’ve been on the other side of that, and when that happens, you think it’s just not our night.”
“I thought he was going to go short side,” Kisielius said. “He caught me offguard. When it hit the post, I knew it was our night.”
“We just couldn’t seem to catch a break,” Hills said.
The Ice Knights got another power play halfway through the period. However, this time, Geneseo did not apply any pressure.
Geneseo was given yet another power play, as Thomas Wenstrum was called for his second consecutive penalty. The only chance Geneseo had was when Stephens fired a shot from the left point into a crowd, but Kisielius was able to find it and covered up the rebound.
After the power play, Trinity put the finishing touches on the game when a crossing pass by Rafuse caught Walker out of position. Walker dove across the net to try and stop a shot by Rick Masucci, but Masucci easily redirected the puck into the unguarded net.
Geneseo pulled Walker with just under three minutes left in the third period. The Ice Knights did at times produce flurries in front of the net, but Kisielius would not be denied the shutout.
“Their goaltender had an exceptional game,” Hills said.
Wenstrum sealed the game with an empty net goal in the last minute.
Geneseo ends its season at 18-7-4 and continues to search for its first NCAA playoff win.
Meanwhile, Trinity (21-3-2) goes to the championship weekend for the first time in school history. The Bantams will play St. Thomas in the semifinals. They will also play these games on the road, at Middlebury, at 3:30 p.m. ET Friday.