GENEVA, N.Y. — Hobart and Manhattanville know each other almost too well. After playing a pair of games against each other last weekend to close out the regular season, the Statesmen and Valiants squared off tonight in the first round of the ECAC West playoffs. The teams faced each other in the semifinal round of the playoffs last season as well, a game won by Manhattanville.
The resulting familiarity led to a very closely-played game tonight in which Hobart defeated Manhattanville by a 1-0 score. Hobart now moves on to take on top seed Elmira in the semifinal round on Saturday.
“Our penalty kill was huge,” said Hobart coach Mark Taylor. “[Goaltender] Nick Broadwater was huge. And we got the bounce of the puck.”
The start of the game was delayed for 25 minutes while the eligibility of a player was determined by the ECAC. Manhattanville junior Evan Michalchuk received a kicking penalty in a game between these two teams last Friday. The referee did not explicitly note that the penalty carried an automatic game disqualification on the official scoresheet, so Michalchuk played the next night. The league became aware of the situation just moments before tonight’s contest and ruled that Michalchuk had to serve the game suspension tonight.
Hobart got the only score of the game at 14:33 of the first period while each team had a player in the penalty box. Senior Matthew Wallace carried the puck into the zone along the right boards with only a single defenseman to beat. Wallace cut toward the net at the half boards and fired off a wrist shot. Manhattanville goaltender Pierre-Olivier Lemieux blocked the puck with his stick, but it bounced out into the slot, where Hobart senior Patrick Moriarty got to the rebound first and shot it into the net for the goal.
Manhattanville carried play during the first half of second period, but Hobart rallied and got the better of the second half. Hobart’s Tommy Capalbo earned a five minute major for boarding as the second period wound down, giving Manhattanville an extended power play to begin the third.
“Toughness has been an issue for us all year,” said Manhattanville coach Keith Levinthal. “If you look at all of our shots, they were either blocked or the goalie had a view of it. We weren’t greasy around the net. I can’t walk away saying we were the harder-working team and that is a problem.”
The Hobart penalty killers did a good job of keeping the puck above the faceoff dots during the extended man advantage for Manhattanville, limiting the chances for the Valiants.
“We wanted to keep that pressure going,” said Taylor. “They were a little hesitant with it, not really crisp, and we just had to keep pressure on them.”
Manhattanville generated a lot of pressure in the third period and pulled its goaltender with just over a minute remaining, but couldn’t get anything past Hobart netminder Nick Broadwater.