Hobart College junior goaltender Adam Lavelle made 35 saves, including 19 in the second period, to lead the Statesmen to a 3-1 victory over RIT before a lively sellout crowd in the ECAC West Tournament Championship game. Hobart captures its first ever conference tournament title and ties the mark for wins in a season with 15.
“I was just trying to zone everything out, but that was pretty hard to do,” Lavelle said.
“You get so tired late in the game, but the crowd just gives you an extra shot of adrenaline.”
The Statesmen (15-7-5) and Tigers came out of the gates at a furious pace, playing great up-and-down hockey. RIT (13-7-5) got some early chances but Lavelle was up to the task. Hobart responded with some quality shots of its own later, but was stopped on the doorstep as well.
In a wild second period that featured 20 shots by ninth-ranked RIT and four penalties by the Statesmen, RIT opened the scoring when Brian Payant found the net with his slapshot at the 12:06 mark. Less than a minute later first-year Adam Scott found a wide-open Conor Bradley who fired it home to make it a 1-1 game.
Despite spending eight minutes on the power-play in the second frame, RIT could not solve the problem of how to get past Lavelle. The penalty kill was outstanding for the Statesmen all evening as they held the Tigers scoreless on each of their seven extra-man opportunities.
Hobart, however, took advantage of its one power-play opportunity of the period with 44 seconds left on the clock. Rookie Tyler Dufour (Whistler, British Columbia) tallied what proved to be the game-winner, knocking home a rebound from Edward Poirier.
“Ed carried the puck all the way up ice and made a nice shot,” Dufour said. “The rebound came right to me, and I took a backhanded golf swing at it and it went right in the net.”
The third period proved to be much of the same with the two squads playing fast and wide open hockey. Lavelle stood on his head throughout the final stanza to garner Most Outstanding Player honors. Sophomore Will Brame iced the win with seven seconds remaining with an empty netter.
The Tigers held a 36-24 advantage in shots, including a 20-8 edge in the second period. RIT goaltender George Eliopoulos made 24 saves on the evening.
|2004 ECAC West Champions:The Statesmen celebrate their first ECAC West Championship in front of a sellout crowd of 1,500 at the Geneva Recreation Complex. (Photo by k. colton/SportsPics.net)|