By Gina de Haan
COLUMBUS, Ohio – The Calvin men's hockey team defeated University of South Florida 10-1 in its first pool play game of the American Collegiate Hockey Association National Championships.
The Knights, ranked No. 1 nationally by myhockeyrankings.com, entered the national tournament as the top seed in the North Region. The USF Ice Bulls are the seeded fourth in the South Region.
"This was a great start to our tournament," said Calvin head men's hockey coach Mike Petrusma. "Despite having a long break, the boys came out strong."
Calvin jumped out to an early lead and never turned back, as the Knights outshot the Ice Bulls 28-4 in the first period to go ahead 4-0.
Junior David Zwiers (Grand Rapids, Mich./Grand Rapids Christian HS) set the tone early, scoring 2:34 into the game, from Jordan Duncan (Oshawa, Ont./Oshawa Generals ETAHL) and Nick Hirst (Waterloo, Ont./Waterloo Siskins GOJHL). Six minutes later, sophomore Keegan Weckesser (East Lansing, MI/Lansing Capitals NAPHL) added another goal for Calvin as Ryan Bradley (Clarkston, Mich./Royal Oak Shrine Catholic) and Frank Moreschi (Malden, Mass./St. Thomas More School) picked up assists.
With just under five minutes to play in the first period, Hirst found the back of net to make the score 3-0. A five-hole goal by Moreschi less than a minute later gave the Knights a 4-0 lead heading into the first intermission. Cameron Bell (Brampton, Ont./Brampton 45's TCMHL) and Ben Brouwer (Grand Rapids, Mich./Grand Rapids Christian HS) assisted Hirst's goal, while Weckesser and Bradley earned assists on Moreschi's goal.
In the second period, both teams struggled to find the back of the net until the 18-minute mark when Zwiers, assisted by Duncan and Ryan Betts (Grand Rapids, Mich./Grand Rapids Christian HS), scored his second goal of the night. With less than a minute remaining in the period, Hirst also netted his second goal of the game, giving Calvin a commanding 6-0 lead heading into the third period. Noah Szenderski (Temperance, Mich./Toledo Cherokee NA3HL) and Duncan picked up assists on the scoring play.
Off the draw, Michael Budd would USF's lone goal to make the score 6-1 with 19:47 remaining.
Midway through the period, the Knights answered with four straight goals. With 9:05 left to play, Zwiers scored, again from Duncan and Betts, to complete his hat trick. 2:35 later, Hirst also scored his third goal of the night, assisted this time by Bell and Sam Shaver (Caledonia, Mich./Lansing Spartans NJPHL).
Senior Ryan Racanelli (Brampton, Ont./Brampton 45's TCMHL) was the fifth Knight to score, finding the back of the net with just under two minutes left to play. Keenan Kennedy (Barrie, Ont./Espanola Express NOJHL) and William Oakes (Princeton, Minn./Princeton HS) assisted Racanelli's goal. With less than a minute to play, Moreschi completed the Knights' scoring efforts with his second goal of the night, assisted by Bradley and Austin Huizenga (Grand Rapids, Mich./Listowel Cyclones GOJHL).
Calvin outshot USF 72-18 and killed off 4-4 penalties.
Zwiers and Hirst led the Knights offense with three goals apiece, while Duncan finished with four assists. Bradley chalked up three assists while Bell and Betts had two each.
Starting goaltender Alex Gross (Fort Worth, Texas/Northern Cyclones EHL) recorded five saves on five shots to earn the win. Killian Quinn (Minnetonka, Minn./Hopkins HS) replaced Gross halfway through the second period and saved 12-13 shots faced.
USF goaltender Samuel Coleman finished with 62 saves on 72 shots.
The Knights are back in action Wednesday night when they face off against No. 14 Colorado State University in their second pool play game. Puck drop is set for 8 p.m. On Thursday night, Calvin will play Farmingdale State at 7:45 p.m. for its final pool play game.
"Colorado State will be a tough challenge, but we are looking forward to it," said Petrusma. "Remaining disciplined will be the key to tomorrow."