It wasn’t pretty but the Stony Brook Seawolves ice hockey team edged out the Lebanon Valley College Dutchmen and move on to the ACHA National Tournament semifinals.
Captain JT Hall won the game for Stony Brook 7-6 with an overtime goal after LVC tied the game with nine seconds remaining in the third period.
“After regulation, going back into the locker room everyone knew we were okay,” Hall said. “We just needed to take a step back and play our game again. Knowing how hard we worked all game, scoring that goal truly felt amazing. This team is truly something special.”
Stony Brook looked like they were going to run away with the game after the first period. After 20 minutes of play,the team came roaring out of the gate and jumped out to a 5-0 lead. It was a stark contrast to the team’s slow start in the previous game against Syracuse.
SBU Senior forward Tyler Underhill scored the first of his three goals just over a minute into the game. Junior forward Eddie Osowski put a rebound goal past sophomore goaltender Chase Wilson just 11 seconds later. Sophomore forward Brendan Calello and freshman defenseman Frank Coscia also scored, staking SBU to a 5-0 lead before the first period expired. Wilson was pulled from the game after the period ended in favor of sophomore goaltender Brenden Manquen.
“It alleviates the pressure to get off to a fast start,” Head Coach Chris Garofalo said.
LVC never went away though. The Dutchmen kept fighting hard from a deficit, eventually scoring four unanswered goals in the third period to force overtime. Stony Brook held a 6-5 lead with nine seconds remaining when sophomore defenseman Frank Sherding closed his hand on the puck in the defensive zone crease, resulting in the referee awarding LVC a penalty shot. Freshman winger Bryan Hovanec scored his third goal of the game and beat SBU goaltender Derek Willms with a deke to tie the game.
“You want to play your game,” Garofalo said. “When you play it safe, that’s usually when something happens and it hurts you. I told the boys that they’ve been dealing with adversity all year, and then they came out and dominated overtime.”
The Dutchmen came on strong in the third period. Hovanec shuffled a backhander into an open net with Willms out of the play and scored again on a cross-ice feed through the crease to cut the SBU lead to 6-4 with 15:43 remaining in regulation.
Hovanec’s first goal came on the power play after SBU freshman defenseman Parker Bishop took a shot on the ankle and went down. Bishop tried to stand up but had trouble doing so, leading to the open ice needed for Hovanec to find the back of the net.
“My only mindset was to get the puck out of the zone,” Bishop said. “I almost got it out, but they ended up scoring, unfortunately.”
Immediately after returning to the game, Bishop showed heart by blocking another shot which saved a goal, which could have eventually cost SBU the game. At the time, SBU was leading 6-4.
“I didn’t think too much about it,” Bishop said. “It was natural reaction to do whatever it took to keep the puck out of the net. I put my body in front of it and hoped for the best.”
With 22 seconds remaining in the game, LVC sophomore forward Zach McKown jammed the puck past Willms to cut the SBU lead to 6-5, who stopped 42 of 48 shots.
Senior forward PJ Hefferin got LVC off to a fast start in the second period as well, scoring two goals seven seconds apart less than a minute into the middle frame.
Underhill responded with his third goal of the game 11:12 into the second period, giving SBU a 6-2 lead.
Stony Brook will play Iowa State on Monday at 6:00 p.m.