COLUMBUS, Ohio – The No. 1 Calvin men's hockey team claimed a 7-5 over Farmingdale State on Thursday night to punch its ticket to the 2017 ACHA National Tournament semifinals for the second straight year.
The underdog Rams put up a tough fight as they led 5-3 early in the third period. However, the responded with four straight goals to earn the victory.
"Farmingdale is a good team with a lot of skill," said head men's hockey coach Mike Petrusma. "They play a stretch game and we were able to make some changes to combat that."
The first period was closely contested as the score was tied on three separate occasions.
In a similar fashion to Wednesday night's pool play game, the Knights swiftly took the lead. Fifty seconds in, sophomore Keegan Weckesser (East Lansing, Mich./Lansing Capitals NAPHL) scored five-hole for his second goal of the tournament.
The Rams were quick to respond as Frankie Azzara scored less than 20 seconds later. As the eight-minute mark approached, Farmingdale State struck again as Mike Jennings came out of the box to capitalize on the breakaway.
Less than a minute later, Calvin knotted the score at two when freshman Nick Hirst (Waterloo, Ont./Waterloo Siskins GOJHL) rocketed a shot from the point off the faceoff win. Austin Kath (Milwaukee, Wisc./Milwaukee Jr. Admirals T1EHL) and Austin Huizenga (Grand Rapids, Mich./Listowel Cyclones GOJHL) picked up assists on the scoring play.
With the Knights on the penalty kill, senior Jordan Duncan (Oshawa, Ont./Oshawa Generals ETAHL) used his speed to fly past the Rams' defense and beat goaltender Stephen Montgomery for his first goal of the tournament.
The Rams would tie the game up for the third time, scoring shorthanded with 3:44 remaining in the first period. As the teams headed into the locker rooms at intermission, the scoreboard read 3-3.
After chances on both ends, Farmingdale State's Joshua Weger scored the lone second period goal to reclaim the lead.
Less than two minutes into the final period, the Rams scored their third straight goal to increase the lead to 5-3.
Despite the two-goal deficit, the Knights found their groove and responded with four consecutive goals to pull ahead to victory.
At the five-minute mark, freshman Keenan Kennedy (Barrie, Ont./Espanola Express NOJHL), assisted by senior Cameron Bell (Brampton, Ont./Brampton 45's TCMHL) and Hirst, kicked off the scoring frenzy with a powerplay goal.
With 12:52 left to go, Huizenga's slapper from the left point found the back of the Farmingdale net, tying the game at five.
The Knights continued to roll and 54 seconds later, Bell scored the game-winner, his first of the tournament. Ryan Racanelli (Brampton, Ont./Brampton 45's TCMHL) had the lone assist on the winning powerplay goal. A last-second empty-netter by Ryan Betts (Grand Rapids, Mich./Grand Rapids Christian) sealed the victory for the Knights.
The Knights finish 3-0 in pool play, having claimed a 10-1 victory over University of South Florida on Tuesday and a 5-0 win over Colorado State University on Wednesday.
Tomorrow, Calvin will face Florida Gulf Coast University in the semifinal. The Eagles earned wins over Adrian College, Southern Connecticut State and Marquette University to advance to the semifinals. Puck drop is set for 8 p.m.
"We are excited about tomorrow," said Petrusma. "Florida Gulf Coast is a team that has a lot of speed."
The Aquinas College Saints will play Bryn Athyn College in the other tournament semifinal at 5 p.m.