The season has been nothing short of amazing, and with 12 teams still standing entering the first round of the NCAA tournament, there was still room for more upsets — at least on paper — that went down this weekend. Hobart survived a physical battle with Plymouth State, while Manhattanville and University of New England took down Massachusetts-Boston and Trinity, respectively, to advance to the quarterfinal round. Here is NCAA tournament first-round recap in the East.
Plymouth State at Hobart
In a game that saw both teams looking to break winless streaks in NCAA play, it was Plymouth State that broke through first on a goal from Ryan Stevens at 5:48 of the first period. The game was very physical from the outset of play, and despite being outshot, 40-14, Plymouth State was playing a physical and tight defensive brand of hockey.
In the second period, the Statesmen broke through with a goal from Julien Denicourt to tie the game, 1-1. Hobart outshot PSU, 16-5, in the period, but couldn’t get anything else past Panthers goaltender Evan Morelli.
In the third period, Denicourt was again a factor, this time assisting on Alec Robitaille’s goal at 8:22 of the period that would prove to be the game-winner. While shots heavily favored the home team throughout, the game was a defensive battle that Hobart ultimately preserved through.
“Certainly not surprised it was a tight game,” said Hobart coach Mark Taylor. “I thought they had a lot of mojo coming into the game. Certainly not surprised by who scored the goal for them, a heckuva a hockey player. I really liked the way our guys persevered and stayed the course and got after it. It panned for us, but it was certainly an exciting hockey game.”
Hobart will travel to face Oswego in the quarterfinal round next Saturday.
University of New England at Trinity
Big-game players need to show up in big games, and such was the case for the University of New England, which upset Trinity on its home ice to take a 2-1 victory. Both Ben Churchfield (43 of 44 saves) and Tedy Loughborough (28 of 30saves) were outstanding in goal for their respective teams, as both offenses created great scoring chances with a frenetic pace at times in the game.
After a scoreless first period that saw 31 total shots, UNE broke through with help from their star players. At 6:55 of the period, Ryan Bloom was stopped by Loughborough at the short side, but scooped up the rebound and swooped around the goal for a wraparound attempt that beat Loughborough and the Trinity defense at the far post for a 1-0 lead. Later in the period, Tyler Seltenreich doubled the advantage with help from Bloom and Brady Fleurent (two assists).
In the third period, the Bantams put Churchfield and the Nor’easters under siege outshooting, the visitors, 15-5. At 9:34 of the period, Taggert Corriveau, hero of the NESCAC championship win over Amherst, cut the deficit in half off a brilliant feed from Liam Feeney, but that was as close as Trinity would get as UNE pulled off the upset in their first-ever NCAA tournament game win.
UNE will travel to face Norwich next Saturday in the quarterfinal round.
Manhattanville at Massachusetts-Boston
The offensive game of Saturday was showcased as Manhattanville visited Massachusetts-Boston. The Beacons had not played since their semifinal round loss in the NEHC tournament and were hosting their first-ever NCAA tournament game. The first period saw both teams exchange goals, with Stevie Bryant and Jeffrey Skinner scoring for the home team while Casper Dyrssen and Bryan Platt scored for Manhattanville.
In the second period, senior Matt Lippa gave Manhattanville a 3-2 lead on a power play at 2:05 of the period, only to be answered by the Beacons’ Chris Peters late in the period for a 3-3 deadlock after 40 minutes of play.
Peters and Lippa weren’t done adding to the score sheet, as Peters gave the Beacons a lead midway through the third period before Lippa scored a pair of goals to complete his hat trick and give the visitors a 5-4 lead with just over a minute remaining in regulation time. Nigel Slade iced the game for the Valiants with just 15 seconds remaining for the 6-4 final score. Goaltender Tyler Feaver made 36 saves to earn the win.
Manhattanville will travel to face Geneseo in the quarterfinal round on Saturday.
Matt Lippa, Manhattanville: Lippa recorded a hat trick in the Valiants win over Massachusetts-Boston on Saturday. He scored both the game-tying and game-winning goals in the third period for Manhattanville, including his 20th on the season.
Ben Churchfield, UNE: Churchfield was outstanding in the Nor’easters 2-1 win at Trinity. He stopped 43 of 44 shots he faced as Trinity outshot UNE, 44-30, for the game.
Alec Robitaille, Hobart: Robitaille scored his first goal of the season, which proved to be the game-winner over Plymouth State in the NCAA first-round game on Saturday. Robitaille also added an assist for a two-point night on Julien Denicourt’s game-tying goal in the second period.
The field is down to eight, including St. Norbert, which survived Augsburg in overtime and will face unbeaten Wisconsin-Stevens Point in the quarterfinals. One more round away from the Frozen Four, and the hockey has been superb. I can’t wait to see what is next.
Thanks to Russell Jaslow for the quotes from the Hobart versus Plymouth State game.