University of Massachusetts wins NCRHA Division 2 Championship!
Minutemen avenge loss from 2015 championship game, defeat SUNY Cortland in final 2-1
It started off a touch rough for UMass, dropping their first round robin game to Cal State Fullerton, by a score of 5-4. UMass then faced Arkansas, who they narrowly beat, by a score of 3-2. Their final round robin game was against Robert Morris University, who they defeated 6-1. By going 2-1, and with the head-to-head tiebreaker against Robert Morris, UMass earned the #1 seed coming out of Pool B. Opposite them in Pool A were SUNY Cortland, followed narrowly by Saint Joseph's.
Donald Brodd led UMass in scoring during round robin, netting 4 goals and 4 assists in the 3 games. Goaltender Jordan Davis was tied for second in Goals Against Average, with a 2.67 GAA (tied with Arkansas goaltender, Hunter Stafford).
The first round matchup against Syracuse featured an 11-4 win for UMass. Ryan Dougherty and Aaron Marcel were key factors, with 4 points a piece. The Elite Eight game against University of Tennessee Knoxville wasn't so easy, as the Minutemen were not able to hold off UT's Michael Curtis, who finished the game with 3 goals and 3 assists. A team effort by UMass was the reason for their win and advancement into the semifinals. Tennessee scored first, followed by 3 UMass goals in the first period. From there it was a series of 1-2 goal stretches all game long. The eventual game-winner was scored with 2:36 left in the 3rd period, by Donald Brodd, from Aaron Marcel. This put UMass up 7-5. Tennessee scored with 24 seconds remaining, on the power play, but were unable to tie the game, and the 7-6 win going to UMass.
The Final Four matchups consisted of 4 teams from the ECRHA: UMass vs. St. Joseph's, and Cortland vs. Robert Morris. But before they got to Robert Morris, Cortland went 3-0 in round robin, then defeated Denver 7-2, and narrowly defeated Arkansas by a score of 4-3. Cortland's win in the semifinals against Robert Morris saw Daniel Nelson score 2 goals and 3 assists, factoring on all goals. Robert Morris actually scored first, with 2 goals early in the 1st. At the end of 1 it was 3-1 in favor of Robert Morris. The 2nd period saw 2 Cortland goals in the first 3 minutes, then no score for the rest of the period. In the 3rd, Robert Morris broke the 3-3 tie, at 6:27 on a goal from Dan Trunk. Cortland put on the pressure in the final few minutes, and was able to earn 2 penalties near the end. In the 4-on-2, Cortland scored 2 goals, by Robert Clark, and then from Daniel Nelson with just 11 seconds left in the game, for the 5-4 win.
In the UMass-St. Joseph's game, UMass scored 3 goals in the first 6 minutes of the game, and that was enough for the win. A 4th goal was scored late in the 2nd period, with UMass taking a 4-0 lead into the 3rd. St. Joseph's, however, kept on fighting, but each time they scored they were countered with another UMass goal. Ryan Wolsiefer and Aaron Marcel each had 2 points in the win, as well as 7 other UMass players contributing with a point a piece. UMass goaltender Jord Davis stopped 26 of 28 shots for the win. With the win, UMass leads the all-time series against St. Joseph's 4 games to 2 (2-1 this season).
The championship game between UMass and Cortland was an ECRHA rematch. Coming into the game, Cortland led the all time series 5-2 and UMass getting the better of this year's series 2 games to 1. UMass had defeated Cortland twice in the regular season, but it was Cortland defeating UMass by a score of 5-3 to knock them out in the semifinals for the ECRHA Regional Championship. Cortland went on to face St. Joseph's in the final, with St. Joseph's winning by a score of 5-2. UMass's Ryan Dougherty opened the scoring just 1:58 into the 1st period, with Ryan Wolsiefer getting the helper, and from that point forward, it was a careful game, you might call it a chess match. The combined shot total may be the least of the entire event, with Cortland outshooting UMass 16-15. Shots in the first 2 periods were 7 a piece. No scoring in the second period meant UMass carried the 1-0 lead into the 3rd. UMass again scored early in the period, on a goal from Donald Brodd from Aaron Marcel. The pace and the shot count went up in the 3rd, as Cortland needed to take some chances, in order to get over the 2 goal deficit. Cortland's Robert Clark scored with 1:45 remaining in the game, with assists to Brian Danziger and Ben Hobbs. Just 9 seconds later, UMass took a tripping penalty, giving the Cortland Red Dragons a fighting chance to tie the game. With the power play advantage plus the goaltender pulled, Cortland was unable to net one for the tie, and UMass emerged in the tightest game we've seen for some time, and the University of Massachusetts Minutemen's first ever Division 2 National Championship!
Congratulations to the University of Massachusetts Minutemen, the 2016 Division 2 National Champion!