History was made Sunday afternoon at IceLine Arena as the West Chester University Hockey team captured their first ever ECHA Tournament Trophy with a 4-2 win over Stony Brook University. In a game that had everything one would expect from a playoff game, WCU’s arguably two biggest stars made the difference. Captain Jim Gehring scored twice, including a beautiful shorthanded goal and added an assist while goaltender Corey Hackney stood on his head, stealing the game from Stony Brook’s grasp after he stopped 36 of 38 shots.
However, Stony Brook proved this would be no easy task for the Golden Rams.
A shorthanded goal with seven seconds left in the first period by Stony Brook’s diminutive forward Kris Deckenback broke the scoreless dreadlock. Deckenback took a pass from one of his defenseman and streaked down the ice on what looked like a clear breakaway. Freshman defenseman Steve Jones caught up with him, but Deckenback’s shot deflected off of Jones’ stick and fluttered its way past Hackney. The goal culminated a lackluster period for the Golden Rams, and perhaps served as a wakeup call.
The second period went by with riveting end to end action with both goaltenders rivaling each other’s saves. Hackney and his opponent, Drue Santora, were equally brilliant in the second period.
However, a sleeping giant awoke with less than two minutes left in the period.
While shorthanded, Gehring, the tournament MVP, blocked a shot and deked past a defenseman and was alone on a breakaway, and Santora never had a chance. Gehring faked one way and cut back, backhanding the puck into a yawning net. The goal marked Gehring’s 100th point of the season, easily tops in the country.
With the two teams tied at one goal apiece after 40 minutes, every hit appeared harder, every puck more fiercely contested, and every save appeared more outstanding then the one that preceded it. WCU found itself a man up midway through the third, and it was an opportunity they would not squander. Forward Mike Longo dished off to a wide open Gehring at the top of the slot, who proceeded to blast a shot past a helpless Santora, and sent the pro-WCU crowd into a frenzy. It would not last long.
Stony Brook won the ensuing faceoff and somehow one of their forwards managed to cross the blue line untouched and ripped a shot over a stunned Hackney’s glove, knotting the game at 2 merely 10 seconds after Gehring’s power play blast. However, with time winding down in the third, it was time for an unsung hero to step up.
“I bet you Bushman scores the winner,” said forward Eddie Devine. Well, Mr. Devine is a prophet. Bushman cleaned up Gehring’s rebound with 8:39 left in the game for what proved to be the deciding goal. Stony Brook tried to mount a comeback, yet they faced the unenviable task of shooting on Corey Hackney while he was at the top of his game. Hackney’s acrobatic stymied Stony Brook, and Longo’s empty net goal sealed the deal. Hackney and Jones picked up assists on the goal.
Following the game, numerous WCU players were given awards for both their regular season and playoff contributions. Hackney made the ECHA 2nd Team for the regular season, and defenseman Chris Orlando and Gehring were given 1st Team nods. Longo, Jones, Bushman and Hackney were named to the All-Tournament Team while Gehring took home the MVP plaque.
WCU will get a week off before heading to Rochester, N.Y for the ACHA National Tournament as they will face a familiar foe in #9 Rhode Island. Check back next week for a National Tournament Preview.
Matt Chandik is a third-year student majoring in Spanish with a minor in journalism. He can be reached at MC618553@wcupa.edu