After Saturday’s upset loss to Utah State University, the NYU men’s hockey team found themselves in a do-or-die situation in their last game of pool play against the Grand Valley State University Lakers. “Heart and hustle” is how one announcer described the game — one with both teams’ seasons on the line. After winning last year’s national title, this year’s story had a heartbreakingly different finish, with Grand Valley coming up with the overtime win, by a final tally of 4-3.
GVSU was out for revenge as NYU took the win in a similar scenario last year in the last game of pool play in overtime. The Violets found themselves at an early disadvantage when GVSU got one past senior goalie Sam Daley at 2:59. NYU had a hard time finding time and space early in the first, causing Daley to show off his skills a little more than the Violets probably would’ve liked.
The nervous tension became nearly unbearable when junior defenseman Pete Jorgensen got tossed in the box with 5:02 on the clock. Grand Valley State weren’t going to let this opportunity to double their lead fall by the wayside, and scored to go up 2-0. NYU cut the lead in half with 3:29 remaining in the first, thanks to a goal from sophomore forward Michael Conslato. At the frame’s end GVSU had a commanding 16-5 lead in shots.
Early in the second, GVSU got their third power play opportunity of the game. The Violets would get the kill, but they would not get the next goal. With 14:31 left in the second, the Lakers’ two-goal lead was restored.
The sound of a “Let’s go Lakers” chant could be heard loud and clear as GVSU found themselves on a two-man advantage 11:28 into the frame. Two minutes of great defense from the Violets ensued to keep the score 3-1. Daley robbed GVSU late in the second to keep things close. But as the clock ticked down, the desperation rose and the Violet’s prospects appeared bleak going into the third.
Grand Valley’s speedy first two periods of dominance were left behind, and instead, the talent that got NYU to this point was on display. The shots evened out, as did the score. Freshman forward Hamilton Whyte got the first in the Violets’ comeback effort. Then, on the Violets’ first power play of the game, freshman forward Keaton Baum played the role of hero, tying the score at three. Both teams pressed hard to net the deciding goal before the buzzer, but the score was still tied after 60 minutes. A stressful 10 minutes of overtime awaited.
Both teams had some stellar opportunities, and Daley made some outstanding saves to keep the contest going, but at 4:23, last year’s fates were reversed when Grand Valley netted the game-winning goal, ending the Violets’ season with a 4-3 victory. Head coach Chris Cosentino admitted the loss stung, but there are always positive takeaways from a playoff run.
“We gave up some early goals, but kept grinding and never quit,” Cosentino said. “Sam Daley was excellent in net and we just wish we could have a better outcome for him and the rest of the seniors. Sometimes you win, sometimes you learn.”
Though players like Daley have played their final game for the Violets, Cosentino can take comfort in a large returning group next season, in addition to another strong class of freshmen who are flocking to the program. Check nyunews.com later this week for the final chapter of “Off the Ice.”
A version of this article appeared in the March 21 print edition. Email Rachel Ruecker at [email protected]