The NYU men’s hockey team began their postseason quest to repeat as National Champions Saturday, facing off against Central Connecticut State University and William Patterson University in Montclair, New Jersey as they began the relatively meaningless Super East Collegiate Hockey League playoffs. Ranked number one in the latest ACHA Division II poll, the Violets have earned an automatic bid to the ACHA National Championship Tournament.
Senior forward Denis O’Hara started the scoring against CCSU by netting a shorthanded goal while sophomore forward Michael Conslato was bench-bound for slashing. However, CCSU would manage to eek out a tying goal on the power play before the frame’s end.
In the second period, CCSU quickly converted just 22 seconds into the period to nudge their way ahead, and less than a minute later they were up by two. On the goal, junior defenseman Evan Ripley got called for cross-checking, a penalty the Violets successfully killed, avoiding further damage.
A familiar narrative of penalties and kills transpired, including a roughing penalty to freshman defenseman James Moeller that catapulted NYU’s second shorthanded goal of the night from Conslato. The frame came to an end with the Violets down a goal and a man, but up in shots 19-12.
The comeback effort began in the third with an unassisted goal from Ripley to tie the game at 3-3. After traded interference penalties, CCSU got a cross-checking call to put NYU on the two-man advantage. The Violets capitalized when freshman forward John Kowalewski got the go-ahead goal. Just a couple minutes later, Kowalewski put NYU up by two.
CCSU got within one after bringing its goalie to the bench, but it was too little too late as sophomore forward Steven Esposito got an empty-netter with five seconds remaining, solidifying the win at 6-4. According to freshman forward Mason Gallegos, it’s crucial for the Violets to persevere.
“Overcoming adversity is the mark for a championship team,” Gallegos said.
Sunday afternoon, NYU faced off against nemesis William Paterson University in hopes of repeating the dramatic late-season success they found against them at home. The game had a slow start, compared to the high-scoring contests that Violets fans have grown accustomed to.
In the first frame, the Violets had to kill a holding and hooking call, and were outshot 14-9.
Then in the second, there were two more dicey calls against the Violets — each for roughing — allocated to O’Hara and Conslato, before there was anything called against WPU. Nothing materialized by the frame’s end, aside from a lopsided penalty sheet.
At long last, Conslato opened the scoring 35 seconds in, but the lead was not built to last, as WPU netted a shorthanded goal to tie things up.
Moeller and Ripley got penalties seconds apart to give WPU a 5-on-3, which they converted to go ahead by one. It was the first unsuccessful kill of the game for the Violets, and as it would turn out, it was also the first loss since returning from winter break for the Violets, as WPU was crowned the SECHL champions.
It’s onwards and upwards from here though. The team is off until the March 18-22 tournament that will take place in West Chester, Pennsylvania.
In the meantime, if you’re thirsty for more Violets’ hockey, follow along with our all-access hockey series.
A version of this article appeared in the Feb. 22 print edition. Email Rachel Ruecker at [email protected]