ECAC West Newsletter: Feb. 28, 2001

Elmira Wins 500th Game In School History

Elmira defeated Hobart on Thursday, earning its 500th victory since going varsity in 1975. Elmira also downed Manhattanville on Sunday, while the Valiants tied Hobart the afternoon before.

League Games Overview

HOBART 2 at ELMIRA 8 (2/22): Elmira jumped on the board early in this contest, with a goal by Brendan Linahan just 3:09 in. Two more Soaring Eagle goals in the first period, by Mike Hulbig and Ryan Baker, got Elmira rolling.

“We took advantage of our opportunities,” said Elmira coach Glenn Thomaris.

Hobart climbed back into the contest for most of the second period. Sean Elliott notched a power-play goal early in the period for Hobart, but Adam Godfrey answered for Elmira with a power-play tally. The seesaw battle continued as Tim McCarthy tallied unassisted for Hobart midway through the period to close the margin to two goals.

But the wheels came off the Hobart bus late in the second when Sean Elliott earned a major penalty and game misconduct for hitting from behind. Hulbig tallied his second of the game early in the third period for Elmira as the Elliott penalty continued, and Elmira ran away with the game from there. Soaring Eagle goals by Dean Jackson, Brian Tyburski, and Clark McPherson finished the score at 8-2.

Also of note to Soaring Eagle fans: Brian Tyburski saw his first game with Elmira’s varsity squad.

“We are still a little banged up. Brian is a senior and has been on our JV squad all along. I thought this was a good chance to get him a very deserved game on the varsity team, and he took advantage of it,” said Thomaris.

Rob Ligas played a stellar game in net for Elmira, stopping all but two of the 29 shots that he faced.

MANHATTANVILLE 2 at HOBART 2 OT (2/24): A goaltender duel broke out in this game as Jon Peczka (Manhattanville) and Chris Connolly (Hobart) battled it out. Neither team scored until midway through the second period when Jerry Toomey put Hobart on the board. Chris Seifert tied it up for Manhattanville in the waning seconds of the period to send the teams to the locker knotted at one goal apiece.

The Valiants took the lead at the 9:17 mark of the third period when Ray Williams finished off a pass from Mark Camarinos. But the Manhattanville lead was shortlived — under three minutes — as Trevor Gowan scored on the power play for Hobart to tie the game 2-2.

In overtime, it looked like Hobart would pull out the victory when Manhattanville took a penalty just 55 seconds into the extra stanza. But the goaltender duel continued, and the game ended in a 2-2 tie.

Jon Peczka stopped 33 of the 35 shots that he faced for the Valiants, while Hobart’s Chris Connolly turned aside 34 of the 36 shots that went his way.

MANHATTANVILLE 5 at ELMIRA 7 (2/25): The Valiants travelled down route 14 from Hobart to take on Elmira Sunday afternoon. The first period looked pretty even, as both sides peppered the opposing net with shots: 16 shots on goal for Manhattanville and 14 for Elmira. Eddie Cassie gave Elmira the early 1-0 lead at the 18:39 mark, but the Valiants answered less than a minute later when Matthew Naylor scored to tie the game.

“Both teams skated very well in the first period. But we let down in the last four minutes and Manhattanville took advantage of it,” said Thomaris.

Camelo Scali put Manhattanville into the lead just 1:38 into the period with a shorthanded goal. Dean Jackson tied it for Elmira at the 7:16 mark, and the rest of the period was all Elmira. Pierre Rivard and Eddie Cassie both added Soaring Eagle goals to build the Elmira lead to 5-2 by the end of the period.

“We got some chances in the second period, and they were going in for us,” said Thomaris.

Dean Jackson scored again just 2:21 into the third period, and it looked like Elmira was off on a romp. But the Valiants battled back. Sean Keane tallied three minutes later to give Manhattanville some life. However, Bob Siewert notched an Elmira goal midway through the period to regain the three-goal Soaring Eagle advantage. Manhattanville coach Keith Levinthal changed goaltenders, and that seemed to spur his team for a last-ditch push.

“Rob McShane came in and made two or three quality saves, including one off his head, right off the bat, and they got some momentum from that,” said Thomaris.

Tommy Prate scored a power-play goal at 16:57, and Ray Williams tipped in another goal at 19:09, and all of the sudden Elmira found themselves in a game again. Elmira’s Adam Godfrey got tagged with a penalty with 31 seconds remaining, and Manhattanville pulled their goalie. But Eddie Cassie scored the shorthanded empty-netter with 11 seconds remaining to finish off the 7-5 win for Elmira.

Team-By-Team Report

RIT (ranked No. 1): RIT had last week off due to final exams. The Tigers head into the league playoffs ranked No. 1 in the country in the poll for the eighth straight week, and also enjoy the top seed in the playoffs this weekend.

ELMIRA (ranked No. 9): Elmira earned its 500th and 501st all-time wins this past week. Since the men’s varsity program started in 1975, the school has earned a record of 501-233-18, a remarkable .678 winning percentage. The two wins also moved the Soaring Eagles up to No. 9 in the national poll.

On the other side of the coin, the injury woes continue for Elmira. The Soaring Eagles lost Clark McPherson in the Manhattanville game to a knee injury. McPherson’s injury will keep him out of action for the league playoffs.

Elmira enters the ECAC West tournament seeded No. 2.

MANHANTTANVILLE: In only their second season of play, the Valiants earned a winning record for the regular season. Coach Keith Levinthal continues to build the program and has reached the level of competitiveness quickly.

Manhattanville enters the tournament squarely as the No. 3 seed.

HOBART: The fourth-seeded Statesmen ended this season in just about the same position as last year, but there are signs of improvement by coach Mark Taylor’s squad.

This year’s record of 6-14-4 is slightly better than last year’s 6-18-1, and while goals-for are almost identical (79, compared to 75 last year), the goals-against is moving in the right direction (102, compared to 130 last year). And Taylor has changed the atmosphere around the program. The players are beginning to believe in themselves and the team again, and that can make all the difference.

Playoff Preview

No. 2 seed Elmira will face No. 3 Manhattanville in the first semifinal game on Friday. This is the rubber match of the year for these two teams, as each won a game at home.

The Valiants are a big, strong, physical team and have been trying to use that to their advantage against the smaller, faster Elmira squad. Both regular-season games saw an abundance of physical play and penalties, so special teams could decide the outcome here.

And even though Manhattanville is only in its second year, a little bit of a rivalry is developing with Elmira.

“Adrian Saul [a former Elmira standout] as an assistant at Manhattanville has helped to gear them up against Elmira,” said Thomaris. And the split in the regular season has given the Valiants some confidence. This game should be a close, physical affair.

No. 1 RIT faces off against No. 4 seed Hobart in the second semifinal game. RIT is still riding its longest undefeated streak in school history, and the No. 1 ranking in the country. And for the first time in memory, the Tigers are healthy going into the playoffs.

Hobart has been riddled with injuries during the second half of the season; yet the Statesmen have continued to play scrappy hockey, as evidenced by their 2-2 tie against the Valiants last week. If the Statesmen can manage to hang within a goal or two of RIT late in the game, they might be able to pull off the upset. However, there is an awful lot of momentum on RIT’s side for Hobart to overcome.