It’s not just how you start, it’s how you finish. Saturday saw all three visiting teams do exactly what they needed to do in getting out to an early lead, but only Hobart was able to seal the deal and advance to the Frozen Four. Norwich won another overtime thriller, and Geneseo found their skating legs to rock Manhattanville. Here is NCAA quarterfinal recap in the East.
Hobart at Oswego
In a rematch between teams that faced each other in the regular season, it was Hobart that got the early lead on an unassisted goal off the stick of Lawson MacDougall. Oswego’s Joseph Molinaro answered just over two minutes later to level the game at 1-1, and that is how the first period ended, despite a 12-2 shot advantage for the Lakers.
The second period saw special teams magic from Hobart that ultimately decided the outcome of the game. With Oswego’s Max Novick going off for cross-checking just 22 seconds into the second period, Hobart didn’t take long to cash in. At 1:04, Ryan Lynch, with assists from Julien Denicourt and Jonas Toupal, gave Hobart a 2-1 lead. Later in the period, with Lynch in the box and Oswego pressing to tie the score, Travis Schneider scored a short-handed goal that gave the visitors a 3-1 lead at the end of two periods. Shots favored Hobart 8-6 in the middle stanza, and the game was going to come down to the final period.
The third period again saw Oswego dominate on the shot count by a 10-5 margin, but goaltender Liam Lascelle was there to make the important saves and preserve the lead. With the goaltender pulled and just 12 seconds remaining in regulation, Oswego’s Travis Broughman scored to make it 3-2, but the Lakers had run out of time, and Hobart took the win and trip to the Frozen Four.
Hobart will face Wisconsin–Stevens Point in the semifinal round next Friday at Stevens Point, which will be the host for the Frozen Four.
University of New England at Norwich
In a game that featured two very hot and talented teams, the University of New England was looking to continue its mastery of teams on the road. Brendan Donohue got them off on the right foot, scoring at 4:07 of the first period to give UNE an early lead over Norwich. Both teams had their skating legs and chances in the first, combining for 25 total shots. Norwich has shown resilience during their 18-game win streak, and Coby Downs evened the game at 1-1 at 13:41 of the period.
The Cadets fed off that momentum and came out flying in the second period, outshooting the Nor’easters by a 13-4 margin. UNE’s Ben Churchfield was equal to the task in goal, stopping all 13 shots he faced in a scoreless period that featured zero penalty calls. The third period was much like the first with action at both ends, and Norwich’s Tom Aubrun matching Churchfield save for save. Neither team could find the go-ahead goal, so overtime was needed to decide this quarterfinal game.
In the extra session, Norwich’s Felix Brassard scored unassisted 2:46 into the period, and Norwich celebrated their return to the Frozen Four with a hard-fought and well-earned 2-1 win over a determined UNE squad.
First-year coach Cam Ellsworth noted of his team, “The guys did a great job!” Norwich will face Geneseo in the semifinal round at Wisconsin-Stevens Point next Friday.
Manhattanville at Geneseo
The Valiants came in as underdogs against Geneseo and their high-flying offense, but it was the visitors who struck first when Marco Ferraro gave Manhattanville a 1-0 lead at 7:05 of the first period. Less than 30 seconds later, Tristan Ramage took a penalty for the visitors, and the Geneseo power play tied the game on a goal from Andrew Romano with assists to Conlan Keenan and Mitch Ferguson. The shots were close at 14-11 in favor of Geneseo, but the period ended at 1-1.
The second period saw both teams score in the first minute of play, with David Szmyd scoring just 21 seconds in for Geneseo and Matt Lippa answering for Manhattanville at the 58-second mark. That’s when Geneseo really showcased their speed game and dominated the rest of the period, scoring three unanswered goals from Conlan Keenan, Henry Cleghorn, and Ryan Burnett to take a 5-2 lead to the second intermission. Manhattanville had no answers for Geneseo’s speed, despite some adjustments during the second period, as Geneseo outshot the Valiants 17-4.
“We tried a few things,” noted Manhattanville coach Arlen Marshall. “In our neutral we tried making a couple of adjustments, in our defensive zone, we tried making a couple of adjustments with our low forward back, with our D. They are a fast team. They kept coming at us;–they did a good job.”
In desperation mode in the third period, Manhattanville began pulling their goalie midway through the period on the power play, hoping to generate some momentum. Geneseo scored three more times in the final period, including an empty-net goal from Brendan Miller at 16:55 to stretch the final score to 8-2 and send the Knights to the Frozen Four.
“They are a disciplined team when it comes to what their game plan is,” noted Geneseo coach Chris Schultz. “Arlen does a really good job with setting a structure and playing within that structure, and our game plan was to expose that structure as much as possible. It took us to the second period to really start doing that. I kind of figured that would happen with a two-week break and getting our game legs back –- game legs are much different than practice legs. I think overall the guys executed the game plan pretty perfectly; we’ll take it.”
Travis Schneider, Hobart: Schneider scored what proved to be the game-winning goal with his short-handed effort in the second period of Hobart’s 3-2 win at Oswego on Saturday.
Felix Brassard, Norwich: Brassard continued his knack for scoring big goals when he scored unassisted in overtime to give Norwich a 2-1 win over UNE on Saturday.
Andrew Romano, Geneseo: Romano picked up three points on a goal and two assists to jump-start the Knights’ offense in an 8-2 win over Manhattanville on Saturday.
The Frozen Four is set for next weekend, and Wisconsin-Stevens Point will play host to three very hungry teams looking to lay claim to a national championship. By polling numbers, teams ranked one, two, four, and seven remain, so the fight for the national title is truly among the teams that have been at the top all season.
Thanks to Russell Jaslow for quotes from press conferences following the Manhattanville versus Geneseo game.