UTICA, N.Y. (WKTV) - Elmira College scored four unanswered goals to rally from a 2-1 deficit on its way to winning the ECAC Men's West Conference Tournament title, 5-2, on Saturday night against host and top-seeded Utica College at the Utica Memorial Auditorium.
The Pioneers owned a 1-0 lead and a 2-1 lead midway through the second period but the Soaring Eagles would not go down without a fight, scoring four goals in the final 23:15 of the contest to earn the conference tournament crown.
Utica's record is now 16-7-4 overall and the Pioneers will have to earn an at-large bid into the NCAA Tournament in order for their season to continue. The NCAA's online selection show for division III men's hockey is scheduled to take place Sunday night at 9 p.m. Elmira wraps up its season with a 16-10-1 overall record.
Elmira goalie Ryan deMelo stopped 34 shots in net and was named the tournament's Most Outstanding Player. The Pioneers edged Elmira in shots 36-32 on the afternoon, but deMelo held UC scoreless in the final 29:46 to help secure the victory for the Soaring Eagles.
UC took a 1-0 lead 4:47 into the contest when senior forward Ridge Garbutt (Toronto, Ontario/Brewster Academy (NH)) netted his 12th goal of the season, on the power-play, much to the delight of the Pioneer faithful at the Aud. Louie Educate (Chicago, IL/Aberdeen (NAHL)) and Mike Baird (Oakville, Ontario/Huntsville (OJHL)) assisted on the Pioneers' first goal of the game.
Elmira's Andrew Ciampichini answered right back less than three minutes later and knotted the score at 1-1 with his second goal of the season to tie the game up. Ciampichini's game-tying goal was assisted by Greg Whittle.
UC took the lead back 10:14 into the second period when freshman forward Mikhail Bushinski (Woodbury, MN/Kenai River (NAHL)) netted his second collegiate goal to put the Pioneers back on top, 2-1. Senior Adam Graff (Bear, DE/Syracuse Stars (EJHL)) and sophomore Joel Wetmore (Horseheads, NY/Lindsay (OJHL)) assisted on Utica's go-ahead goal.
Before the end of the second period Elmira's Jesper Strale tied the game back up at 2-2 when he scored his 11th of the year, assisted by Michael Collins and Carter Shinkaruk, to send the game into the final period all tied up. Strale was later named to the All-Tournament Team for his efforts over the course of the last two games.
The third period proved to be all Soaring Eagles as Shinkaruk gave the visitors their first lead of the contest after he netted his tenth goal of the season 3:36 into the final frame. Liam Burtt and Tommy Sumi assisted on what proved to be the game-winner. Brian Depp, who was named to the All-Tournament Team, added a third period goal to give the Soaring Eagles a two goal advantage with 4:35 to play. Michael Collins added an empty-netter with 55 seconds left to secure the win for the Soaring Eagles.
Utica senior goalie Nick Therrien (Rochester, NH/NY Apple Core (EJHL)) stopped 27 shots in net for the Pioneers. Elmira went 2-for-6 on the power-play, while Utica went 1-for-5 with a man advantage. Utica seniors Jordan Hobaica (Clinton, NY/Northwood School) and defender Mike Slowikowski (Ewing, NJ/N.J. Hitmen (EJHL)) were both named to the All-Tournament Team.