Manhattanville Steamrolls Elmira, 9-1; Advances to ECAC West Semis

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STAMFORD, Conn. – Senior Brendan Turner (Tisdale, Sask./Lloydminster Bobcats (AJHL)) recorded his first career hat trick and classmate Scott Hudson (St. Albert, Alta./Sherwood Park Crusaders (AJHL)) had two points to become the fourth Valiant to reach the century mark for his career as the fourth-seeded Manhattanville men's hockey team steamrolled over fifth-seeded Elmira, 9-1, in the first round of the ECAC West Conference Tournament on Wednesday night at Terry Conners Rink.
Manhattanville (14-9-3) advances to the semifinals of the ECAC West Tournament with the victory, where the Valiants will face off with top-seeded Utica on Saturday at 7 p.m. from the Utica Memorial Auditorium. Elmira (10-16-0) has its season come to a close with the lopsided defeat, the worst-ever suffered by the Soaring Eagles at the hands of the Valiants.
The Valiants dominated play from the opening draw on Wednesday night, posting a 55-16 edge in shots and seeing all 12 forwards (and 15 of 18 skaters altogether) record at least one point. Turner led the way with a career-high-tying four on three goals and an assist, followed by sophomore Mark Rivera (Belmar, N.J./Springfield Pics (EJHL)) with a goal and two assists for three points. Hudson and senior co-captain Ron Smith (North Delta, B.C./Nanaimo Clippers (BCHL)) both had a goal and an assist as well, while senior co-captain Brett Skalski (Exton, Pa./Des Moines Buccaneers (USHL)), junior Louie Balzano(Staten Island, N.Y./New York Apple Core (EJHL)) and sophomore Kevin Struempfler (Lincoln University, Pa./Springfield Pics (EJHL)) also scored for the home team.
For Hudson, his first point of the game gave him 100 points for his career, making him just the fourth player in school history to reach triple figures. His assist later in the night moved him to 101, leaving the assistant captain one point behind former teammate and current head coach Arlen Marshall '10 for third place all-time at the school.
The home team came out flying in the first period, putting the first six shots on goal of the night and taking 22 shots to Elmira's three in the first frame as a whole. Hudson got the scoring started at the 9:16 mark, taking a drop pass from freshman Matt Coleman (Brentwood, N.Y./Springfield Pics (EJHL)) and backhanding the puck past EC netminder Darren McDonald for his 12th of the year. Balzano got into the act less than five minutes later, as Turner fed him in front of the net for an easy put away and a two-goal Valiant lead.
Despite the big edge in shots, however, the team's lead was only one headed into the opening intermission as Brian Depp scored with 3:58 left in the frame to make it a 2-1 score after 20 minutes.
But that goal proved to just be a minor hiccup for the Valiants, as Manhattanville scored seven unanswered goals over the final 40 minutes to leave no doubt.
The home team lit the lamp four times in the middle frame, as four different Valiants found the net. Rivera regained the team's two-goal lead 4:56 into the period, as sophomore Paul Sirignano (St. Catharines, Ont./Thorold Blackhawks (OJHL))forced a turnover behind the Elmira cage and fed in front to Rivera for the score. Less than a minute later Turner scored his first of the game from freshman Paul Allan Bamberg (Lulea, Sweden/Lulea HF J20 (SWE)) and sophomore Rich Meyer (Port Monmouth, N.J./Boston Bulldogs (AtlJHL)) to make it a 4-1 lead.
An Elmira timeout and a goalie change to Ryan deMelo did nothing to stem the Valiant tide, as less than four minutes later Skalski beat the EC netminder one-on-one after getting feeds from Smith and senior Marc Zanoni (Lethbridge, Alta./Calgary Canucks (AJHL)) for his seventh of the year. It looked like the Soaring Eagles would be able to get into the break down by just four but Manhattanville had other ideas, with Struempfler netting his second goal of the year off a rebound in front with less than four seconds remaining in the period.
Manhattanville seemed to hold back somewhat in the third frame, taking only 11 shots, and yet still scored three more times to account for the final score. Turner scored his second of the night 2:03 into the period when his blast from the point got through traffic in front and past deMelo on the man advantage. The goals kept coming 52 seconds later, when Smith finished off a feed from senior Jason Bowles (Elkhorn, Man./Waywayseecappo Wolverines (MJHL)) in front of the cage to end deMelo's abbreviated evening and put the home team up by seven with 17:05 still remaining.
Turner put an emphatic cap on the scoring with seven minutes to go with a shorthanded tally, as Hudson hit him for a beautiful tip-in at the top of the crease.
Unlike his counterparts at the other end of the ice, sophomore Alex Scola (Exeter, N.H./Woodstock Slammers (MJHL)) did not have much action down his way for most of the night, finishing with 15 saves on 16 shots to improve to 5-2-1. McDonald was given the loss, making 32 saves on 37 shots in 42:47 of action sandwiched around deMelo's 14 saves on 18 shots.
Manhattanville, which beat Elmira for the fourth straight time in the postseason and improved to 10-9 all-time in ECAC West Tournament play with the win, will look for its first win of the year against Utica after going 0-2-1 against the Pioneers during the regular season. For fans that can't attend the game, there will be a live audio broadcast on WMVL 88.1 FM that will begin at approximately 6:45 p.m.

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