The No. 15 Hobart College ice hockey team clinched the ECAC West regular season title with a 3-0 win over visiting Manhattanville in a conference contest played this afternoon in The Cooler. First-year goaltender Frank Oplinger stopped all 18 shots he faced to secure his second straight shutout.
The Statesmen, who have won their last seven games, improve to 18-6-0 overall and 11-3-0 in conference play. It was Hobart’s third shutout of the season and the first time the Statesmen have notched back-to-back shutouts since 2009. Hobart topped Utica 4-0 back on Jan. 30, 2009, and then posted a 6-0 win over the Pioneers on Jan. 31, 2009. The Valiants fall to 7-12-5 overall and 2-10-2 in ECAC West play this season. Senior Brad McBride led Hobart with a goal and an assist. Junior Ben Gamache added two assists.
With 1:27 left in the first period, McBride slid a shot past Manhattanville goaltender Brian Fleming. It was McBride’s team-leading 13th goal this season. It came off passes from Gamache and first-year Andrew Silard.
One of the Valiants’ best scoring chances came with 6:10 left in the second period. Anton Racklin clanged a shot off the post, but the middle period proved to be scoreless.
The Statesmen added to their lead with two third period goals. With 4:54 left in regulation, junior Mac Olson tipped a shot in at the left post after a feed from behind the goal from McBride. Gamache also earned an assist on the play. With 1:33 remaining, senior Robert Sovik tallied his 11th goal of the season on a power play off assists from senior Tommaso Traversa and junior Brad Robbins.
The game featured a total of 83 penalty minutes. Hobart finished 1-for-8 on the power play, and killed off all seven of the Valiants’ power-play attempts. Fleming played all 60 minutes in goal for Manhattanville and made 44 saves. Hobart held a 47-18 advantage in shots.
The Statesmen will play their final regular season game, another ECAC West contest, on Saturday, Feb. 21, when they travel to take on Elmira at 7 p.m.