Monumental Rally (or Collapse)
There have been many dramatic finishes to games between Elmira and RIT over the years, and many of those have taken place at the Tigers’ Ritter Arena.
Take the goal with two seconds left to lift RIT to victory on Feb. 16, 2002, as an example, or when Elmira just missed scoring the tying goal by a second just two weeks later. Elmira’s dramatic 4-3 victory over RIT on March 8, 2003, to win the ECAC West championship certainly qualifies.
Last Saturday’s dramatic 7-6 victory by Elmira, to perhaps conclude this rivalry, certainly is a fitting way to end this saga. And it is also one of the most dramatic rallies, or collapses, depending on your point of view, that I have ever seen by a team in my twenty-plus seasons of watching college hockey.
“I wouldn’t expect anything else here,” said Elmira coach Tim Ceglarski. “It could have gone any way. The last couple of years, [Ritter Arena] has not been very good to us except for the ECAC West championship. But tonight it was.”
To set the stage, RIT was up 6-3 with less than seven minutes remaining when Tiger Brent Macovi ran over Elmira’s Randy Campolini right in front of the Soaring Eagles net. Macovi immediately signaled the referee that Campolini was injured, and play stopped for several minutes while he was assisted by both the Elmira and RIT medical staffs. After Campolini was assisted off the ice, Macovi was sent to the penalty box for charging, and Elmira scored just as the ensuing minor penalty expired to narrow the margin 6-4. Just under three minutes later, a big scrum in front of the RIT bench sent a Tiger and two Soaring Eagles to the penalty box, one with a double minor penalty.
The referee offered Elmira coach Tim Ceglarski a choice whether to be down one man for four minutes or two men for two minutes. Since there were only two minutes left in regulation, Ceglarski chose to be down one man for four minutes, and it proved to be the right decision.
This choice of how to serve the penalties, while obscure and relatively unknown, can be found in the interpretations section of the 2005 NCAA Ice Hockey Rulebook on page HI-8:
“If there is an uneven amount of penalties on one team, the captain has the choice of which penalty or penalties would be considered coincidental and which penalty or penalties will go on the penalty clock.”
After the penalties were all sorted out, Elmira scored two, yes I did say two, shorthanded goals in the last 1:16 of the third period to tie the game 6-6. RIT was never able to settle in its own defensive zone, and Elmira took full advantage of it.
Elmira finished killing the remaining two minutes of the penalties early in overtime, and then scored the game winner at 2:41 to finish off the dramatic comeback.
“This is the craziest game I have ever been a part of,” said RIT coach Wayne Wilson. “We were very loosey-goosey, and thought we had it made. They played a full 65 minutes. We only played 58 minutes.”
What a wild, and unexpected, finish to this storied rivalry.
This past weekend sorted out some of the playoff picture, but not all of it. Here is how each team still in the hunt stands, with two weeks to go in the regular season.
None of the five teams in the hunt has clinched a playoff spot yet.
Manhattanville must win any three of its four remaining games to win the regular season title. However, the Valiants could finish out of the playoffs if they lose all four games and Hobart sweeps its two remaining games. Manhattanville needs to gain at least one more league point to clinch a playoff berth.
Utica needs to sweep all four remaining games to guarantee a first place finish. Or, the Pioneers could win three games, coupled with two Manhattanville losses, to also finish in first place. Utica could finish out of the playoffs if it loses all four remaining games and Hobart sweeps. The Pioneers need at least one tie to clinch a playoff berth.
This season has been quite a journey for Utica, progressing from barely making the playoffs last year to having a shot at the regular season title this time around.
“It is a position we are not used to being in,” said Utica coach Gary Heenan. “We need to keep showing up every night. With the exception of the first weekend of the season, we have been very consistent all year long.”
RIT will back into the playoffs if it ends up in a tie with Elmira. However, a comparison of RIT and Hobart is not as clear. If RIT loses both remaining games, and Hobart wins both of its games, then RIT is out of playoffs. If Hobart takes three points, and RIT only takes one point in those games, RIT wins the head to head tiebreaker. RIT needs at least one tie to clinch a playoff berth.
RIT is not mathematically eliminated from a first place finish, but the scenarios to get there are so convoluted, the chances of it actually happening are remote at best.
The comparison between Hobart and Elmira for the fourth playoff berth is even murkier, but it is in the hands of Elmira to decide. No matter what happens between Hobart and Neumann this weekend, it will come down to the game between Elmira and Hobart next weekend.
If Elmira beats Hobart, then the Soaring Eagles will win the fourth playoff spot. If Hobart loses to Neumann, a tie would also be good enough for Elmira to extend the season in to the playoffs.
If the two teams end in a tie, Hobart owns the tiebreaking criteria over Elmira.
As it looks right now, Manhattanville and Utica are vying for the regular season title. If RIT can stop its skid, it is most likely going to finish in the middle of the pack. Meanwhile, Elmira is holding onto the last playoff spot while time is quickly slipping away from Hobart.
Last week’s column was the debut of my ECAC West All-Rookie Team. This week, it is time to unveil my First and Second All-League teams.
Remember, unlike the actual league awards voted on by the coaches, I will be looking at player performances for the entire season, not just in league games.
Without further ado, I am pleased to announce my 2004-2005 ECAC West All-League Teams.
ECAC West First Team:
Jason Kenyon (Manhattanville) — Senior Forward
Jarrett Konkle (Elmira) — Senior Forward
Jimmy Sokol (Utica) — Senior Forward
Greg Gallagher (Hobart) — Senior Defense
Paul Prefontaine (Manhattanville) — Junior Defense
Dimitri Papaevagelou (Hobart) — Freshman Goaltender
ECAC West Second Team:
Jason Chafe (RIT) — Senior Forward
Edward Poirier (Hobart) — Junior Forward
Jeff Smith (Lebanon Valley) — Sophomore Forward
Galloway Carroll (Manhattanville) — Junior Defense
Marc Hyman (RIT) — Junior Defense
Mike Collichio (Neumann) — Freshman Goaltender
Each of these players brings that little extra to the ice that has made a difference in the success of their team this year.
The three senior forwards on the First Team all lead their respective teams in scoring.
Jarrett Konkle (20-17-37) leads the entire league in scoring, and is the only player in the ECAC West to surpass the twenty goal scoring mark so far this season.
Jimmy Sokol (10-15-25), while experiencing a slight scoring slump midseason, has turned it on of late, including scoring two key goals in Utica’s recent victory over RIT.
Jason Kenyon (7-12-19) is tied for the lead in points at Manhattanville, and is a key cog in the wheel of scoring on a remarkably well balanced Valiants attack.
Greg Gallagher (5-8-13) is your typical stay at home defenseman for Hobart who excels at his job. He has also chipped in points at key times during the season.
Paul Prefontaine (5-11-16) transferred to Manhattanville after the collapse of the program at Findlay. He quickly adjusted to the level of play in Division III, and performs his role well in the defensive schemes of the Valiants.
In goal on my First Team is Dimitri Papaevagelou (2.45 GAA, .906 save%) from Hobart. On the surface, this may seem like an odd choice given that there are a few upperclassmen goaltenders around the league this year that have played well. But none of those upperclassmen have stood out, and Papaevagelou has certainly done that.
When last year’s all-league goaltender Adam Lavelle went down to injury in Hobart’s third game of the season, Papaevagelou was called on to step in to the breach. What was intended to be a gradual transition to replace the senior netminder turned in to a starting position in an emergency for the freshman.
Papaevagelou never blinked, and has kept Hobart in the playoff hunt right to the end.
Like the First Team, the players on the second team each brought something special to the table. Whether it is Jason Chafe’s (RIT) intensity, or Edward Poirier’s (Hobart) and Jeff Smith’s (Lebanon Valley) scoring touch, everyone noticed when these forwards were on the ice.
On defense, Marc Hyman (RIT) was the only defenseman in the league to average more than a point per game in scoring. Meanwhile, Galloway Carroll (Manhattanville) has been a rock-solid defender again this season.
Several stories have already been written about goaltender Mike Collichio (Neumann), and how critical he has been to the success the Knights have tasted this season amongst all the turmoil.
Next week, my league awards will conclude with naming of my Player, Coach, and Rookie of the Year.