RYE, N.Y.—The Hobart College ice hockey team jumped out to 2-0 lead in the first period and never looked back as the Statesmen downed Manhattanville 6-2 in an ECAC West semifinal game played tonight at the Valiants' Playland Ice Casino.
Hobart, the No. 3 seed, is now 19-4-4 overall and earned a spot in the ECAC West tournament championship game where it will face top-seeded Utica in Utica, N.Y., on Saturday, March 4. The Pioneers edged Neumann 4-3 in the other semifinal. The No. 2 seed Valiants finished their season with a 14-11-1 overall record.
Junior Vincent Russo notched two goals in the win. Sophomore Cam Shaheen and senior Jon Neal added two assists. Junior goaltender Frank Oplinger made 32 saves in all 60 minutes in goal for the Statesmen.
With tonight's win, Hobart's senior class, Jon Neal, Nick Bingaman, Bobby Sokol, Connor Simon, Tyler Hanzlik, Bo Webster, Tim Keegan, Michael Russo, Mitch Beyer and Carl Belizario, logged 75 career wins, matching the program record for most wins by a graduating class.
Just 2:45 in sophomore Jonas Toupal capitalized on Hobart's first power play of the night. Belizario pushed a pass ahead to sophomore Tanner Shaw who carried the puck into the zone and found Toupal on the left side. Toupal slid his shot underneath the Valiant goaltenders' pads for his 12th goal this year. At 8:50 first-year Lawson MacDougal deflected a blast from Neal from the blue line for his sixth goal of the season. Shaheen also earned an assist on the play.
Manhattanville struck first in second period, but Hobart answered with three more goals to build a 5-1 lead. Just 24 seconds in, Axel Walltott broke through for the Valiants with a blast from the blue line. Adam Platt and Matt Lippa were credited with the assists.
The Statesmen answered with a power-play goal 1:22 later. Bingaman scored for his team-leading 18th goal of the year after classmate Bobby Sokol dished to him right in front. Neal also earned an assist on the play. At 9:42, Shaheen took a pass from junior Jordan Haskell and brought the puck into the zone. He left it for Silard who drilled his shot into the back of the net to make it 4-1. Silard has three goals this season. With 2: 26 left in the second and right after a Statesmen power play had expired, Russo found the back of the net through traffic in front. Sophomore Jack Macnee and junior Ben Greiner were credited with assists on the play.
At 7:49 into the third period, Stephen Gaul notched the Valiants second goal. Oscar Arfelt and Cory Anderson earned the assists. With 23 seconds left in regulation, Russo netted an empty net goal to close out the win. It was his ninth goal this season.
The Valiants held a slight 34-33 advantage in shots. Tyler Feaver made 27 saves for Manhattanviile The Statesmen finished 2-for-7 on the power play and killed all four of the Valiants' power-play attempts.