Morgantown, WV- The West Chester University Hockey Team traveled out west to Pittsburgh and West Virginia this weekend, and came back with more than just two wins. The Rams clinched the first regular season conference championship in school history with a 2-1 decision over the Mountaineers. On Friday night, the Rams took on an upstart Pittsburgh Panthers squad that recently battled Penn State to a 2-1 loss. The Rams rolled into Pittsburgh and crushed the Panthers 7-2. Sophomore Bobby Bushman powered the WCU offense on the strength of a hat trick. Fellow linemate Jim Gehring tallied his 31st goal of the season on a breakaway. Senior captain Rob Troxell also added a goal, and junior forward Tom Waite and senior defenseman Bobby Jones capped the scoring. The Rams thoroughly dominated the Panthers from start to finish, out shooting them 45-24. Freshman goaltender Corey Hackney made 22 saves to preserve the win for WCU.
On Saturday night, the Rams made history in Morgantown. In a rematch of last week’s epic showdown at Iceline between #12 West Virginia and #13 West Chester, won by West Chester 6-4. the Rams were able to edge the Mountaineers 2-1 to clinch their first ECHA regular season championship, edging out #4 University of Rhode Island. Though the two teams had an identical record, the Rams 6-0 victory over URI was what gave WCU the edge. Bushman continued his torrid goal stretch as he notched the first goal of the game late in the second period, and senior forward Jason Ferrell scored an outstanding goal which would hold up as the winner. Ferrell spotted the loose puck next to West Virginia goaltender Rastislav Kret and dove towards it, knocking the puck into the back of the net and sending the WCU bench into a frenzy. West Virginia would not go down easily, however, as they scored with eleven minutes left to make the game interesting. In the end though, Hackney was able to seal the win for WCU with a solid 28 saves.
News and Notes: Jim Gehring looks primed to break the WCU record for most goals in one season of 35 set by Josh Leachey in 2002-2003. With ECHA playoffs and the ACHA National Tournament remaining, the odds are definitely in his favor, The Rams are 20-2 in their past 22 games since a disastrous 0-3 showing at the ACHA Showcase with their only losses being to national powerhouses #2 Penn State and #4 Rhode Island. By virtue of winning the league regular-season championship, WCU locks up an automatic bid to the National Tournament. West Chester receives a bye in the first round of conference playoffs, which are to be held this weekend at IceLine with WCU being the host team. They will face the lowest remaining seeded team in the semi-finals, which will be either West Virginia, Drexel or Lehigh.