The fourth-ranked Hobart College hockey team fell to Neumann 3-2 on Saturday in the ECAC West Championship at The Cooler. Knights Jeff Rodell and Matt Ward connected for the game-winning goal with four seconds to play in regulation, narrowly edging the Statesmen for the league title. Hobart now stands at 19-6-2 overall, while Neumann improves to 17-9-2 on the season.
The Statesmen lit the lamp first, tallying 17 minutes, 6 seconds into the contest. Junior forward Aleksey Koval sent a cross-crease pass to classmate Blake Bonham for the power-play put-away.
Hobart’s 1-0 lead was short-lived, as Neumann netted its first goal 8:40 into the second period. Jeremy Gates scored the power-play tally, assisted by Jesse Cole. The Knights struck again with 15 seconds left in the stanza to grab a 2-1 lead heading into the final break. This time it was Cole with the score, assisted by Ward and Marlon Gardner.
With less than five minutes to play in the third period, the Statesmen evened the game at 2-all. Koval carried the puck up the right side, dodged two defenders, and then skated around the back of the goal to bury the puck in the left corner of the net. Sophomore defenseman Kyle Whitaker set up the play.
The contest seemed headed for overtime, but with the seconds ticking down in regulation, Ward got loose on a breakaway and took a shot that rebounded back to Rodell. Rodell’s backhanded shot from the right side of the net snuck past senior Hobart goaltender Keith Longo for the game-winner with four seconds on the clock. Rodell was tabbed the game’s Most Outstanding Player for his late-game heroics.
Longo finished with 37 saves, while Ross MacKinnon collected 25 saves for the Knights. Neumann held a 40-27 advantage in shots.
Joining Rodell on the ECAC West All-Tournament Team was Koval, Hobart senior defensemen Andy Brennan and Ryan Adler, Cole, Ward, and MacKinnon.
The NCAA selection committee will decide on the 2009 NCAA Tournament bracket. Both the Knights and the Statesmen will await the decision to see if they will be among the 10 teams to compete.