Fresh off moving up a spot in the ACHA rankings, the WCU Golden Rams hockey team showed IUP why they were ranked No. 9 this weekend, drubbing the Crimson Hawks 6-1 and 5-0. The latest ACHA Division I rankings came out Friday, and thanks in large part to their recent winning streak, the Rams leapfrogged the defending national champion Oakland Grizzlies.
They were then faced with the task of shutting down the No. 38 team in the country, Indiana University of Pennsylvania. The two teams met for a two game set last year at IUP, with the Golden Rams winning 7-5 and 7-2. This time around at Iceline, the task would prove to be much easier.
The first game saw the Golden Rams completely dominate IUP from one end to the other. Captain Jim Gehring started the scoring with a goal at 9:19 in the first period, with Eddie Devine and Frank Walther picking up assists.
Devine and Gehring would then factor in on the next goal when they combined to help set up the country’s number one point getter Pat Johnson, who made a defenseman look absolutely silly before rifling a puck between the goaltender’s legs.
They continued the scoring in the second when Johnson added his second of the night with assists from Devine and Jesse Petrillo, and shortly thereafter, defenseman Steve Jones scored his second goal of the season with an assist from Luke Benner.
IUP would score early in the third to dent the WCU lead, but Gehring’s two, third-period goals to complete the hat trick put this game out of reach. The top line of Gehring, Johnson and Devine combined for 11 points, as Devine had four assists, Johnson had two goals and an assist, and Gehring had a hat trick and an assist. Gehring’s third goal was tailor-made for a highlight reel.
Goaltender Corey Hackney fired the puck to Robert Bushman who chipped it up to Gehring, who then proceeded to make the entire IUP team look foolish before ripping a shot top shelf. Hackney finished with 27 saves and a rare assist.
Saturday afternoon’s tilt saw a different goaltender for both teams as Luis Perez was given the nod for the Rams, and he responded with WCU’s first shutout of the season. His 23 saves set the tone for the rest of the game as the Rams coasted to an easy 5-0 win.
Gehring got the scoring started at 15:52 of the first period when he took a feed from Johnson and scored on a shorthanded breakaway.
Johnson would then extend the lead on a powerplay goal some eight minutes later when he snapped a shot past the goaltender’s outstretched arm. Devine and defenseman Chris Orlando drew assists on the goal.
Johnson would strike yet again minutes later with another goal, and Orlando and Devine were credited with assists again.
Early in the second period, WCU took advantage of a 5 on 3 when Orlando ripped a shot that made its way past the overmatched IUP goaltender.
Gehring and Devine registered assists. Gehring then capped off the scoring late in the second when he scored his second shorthanded goal of the game when he tapped a beautiful pass from Johnson into the back of the net to make it 5-0 and to chase IUP’s starting goaltender. Jeff Shockley also picked up an assist on the play.
This weekend extends WCU’s winning streak to eight straight games as they head to Michigan over Thanksgiving for a three game set against Eastern Michigan, Michigan Dearborn and Western Michigan before capping off the semester with a two game set against Towson in two weeks.
Matt Chandik is third-year student. He can be reached at MC618553@wcupa.edu.