Men’s hockey wins ACHA championship


via University of Utah Hockey

The NYU hockey team celebrates after defeating Florida Gulf Coast University, 5-4, to win the ACHA D2 National Championship on Tuesday.

Bobby Wagner, Sports Editor

The NYU hockey team is leaving Utah as National Champions for the first time in program history after edging out Florida Gulf Coast University 5-4 in a hotly contested game on Tuesday night. The Violets are now at the pinnacle of the American Collegiate Hockey Association as the undisputed No. 1 team in the nation.

They jumped out to a big lead early on, and looked to be on their way to a dominant victory on par with their 8-1 dismantling of Lindenwood University in the semifinals. The Violets benefitted on Tuesday night from some opportune finishing by senior forward Niko Masotta but FGCU fought back to cut NYU’s 5-1 lead to just 5-3 at the end of the second period.

Masotta netted two goals in the contest on his way to being named the Most Valuable Player of the national tournament. He also headed the All-Tournament First Team for the Violets with freshman goaltender Jack Nebe and sophomore defenseman Evan Ripley. Freshman forward Michael Conslato was named to the Second Team.

The locker room was overcome with emotion after the game.

“It’s hard to put all these emotions into words,” Nebe said. “We’re elated, on top of the world but also thankful for what we have at NYU and our unbelievable coaching staff. From the top down, this team is a family and tonight we showed that.”

Head coach Chris Cosentino was visibly frustrated in the second period with his team when they let FGCU claw back into the game.

“We play aggressive hockey, and we get caught too many times crossing that line and taking a penalty,” Cosentino said.

Despite these setbacks, his team never allowed the Eagles to knot the game up.

“Our penalty kill unit was incredible all tournament,” Cosentino said. “FGCU is a great team with a ton of skill. We knew they would not go down quietly. We just kept grinding.”

Senior forwards Michael O’Shaughnessy and Davy Johnson and junior forward Denis O’Hara each scored one goal in the win. Nebe finished with 38 saves, including some vital saves at the end of the game when FGCU had pulled their goalie in a desperate attempt to tie the game up before the final buzzer. NYU defensemen dove in front of the final few shots from the Eagles, conceding one goal, but preventing the equalizing goal that would have sent the game to overtime.

In a season full of emotional ups and downs, the Violets now will return to New York as national champions for the first time in Cosentino’s five year stint as the Violets’ coach. The Violets have had to overcome the loss of a player’s father, the brain tumor that has sidelined their starting goalie Sam Daley for the season and the grueling stretch of a competitive northeastern hockey schedule. The seniors, like captain Dan Fortunato, will leave as champions. The freshmen, like Nebe, will leave with a memory and a strong foundation to build on for the future.

“We faced so many challenges through the season both on and off the ice,” Fortunato said. “It feels great to come out on top. The storybook ending is complete.”

After four years of grinding and working for this moment, Cosentino and his players finally have the chance to sit back and enjoy their accomplishments.

“There are a lot of ice bags, a lot of tears and definitely smiles,” Cosentino said. “We have all grown up together over the past four years and this is just perfect.”

A version of this article appeared in the March 25 print edition. Email Bobby Wagner at [email protected].