ANNAPOLIS, MD (Friday, January 29, 2010) -- In one of its best games this season, Navy's ice hockey team played 10th ranked University of Rhode Island (URI) dead even for 65 minutes,
but lost in a sudden death shootout, 4-3, Friday night in an Eastern States Collegiate Hockey League (ESCHL) contest at the McMullen Hockey Arena.
The Midshipmen are now 9-18-3 overall and 1-14-2 in the ESCHL. The Rams are 18-6-3 and 13-2-2.
Navy and URI will meet again Saturday (January 30) at 7:30 p.m. at the McMullen Hockey Arena.
The Mids jumped out to a 1-0 first period lead thanks to a Sam Carlson goal at 9:51 which came during a 5-on-3 power play. Sophomore Mitch Pulver and junior Steve Csutoros assisted on Carlson's team-leading 14th goal.
URI tied the contest at 1-1 early in the second stanza when Kyle Krannich fired a shot from the left face-off circle that rang off the goalpast and past Navy netminder Jameson Marshall at 6:48. Navy regained its one-goal lead late in the same period when senior co-captain Patrick Heitman lifted a reboubnd over prone URI goaltender Joe Spagnoli and into the upper corner of the net at the 14:05 mark. It was Heitman's fourth goal this season.
The see-saw scoring continued in the third period, as the Rams tied the game at 2-2 with a James Lang one-timer from the slot at 4:18. The Mids battled back again with one of the season's most beautiful goals. Heitman lifted a pass out of Navy's defensive zone to a breaking Pulver, who gathered the puck on his stick at the URI blue line, skated in uncontested on Spagnoli, and beat the Ram netminder with a wrist shot that rang off the goalpost and into the back of the net. Pulver's goal, at 7:30, was his 12th of the campaign and gave the blue-and-goal a 3-2 advantage.
But URI tied the game for the fourth time, 3-3, just over a minute later when Richie Falasca scored on a wrist shot from the left face-off circle at 8:41.
The game's final eight minutes was filled with heart-stopping drama. The Midshipmen had a power play chance with 3:05 remaining in the third period, only to see it negated with an infraction of their own with 2:34 remaining. Navy nearly won the contest in regulation, but a wicked slap shot from the blue line by senior Andrew Ochalek with just under two minutes left in the period glanced off the top crossbar. The Rams had a chance to put the game away with a 5-on-3 power play opportunity that lasted for 29 seconds. The Mids killed off the first penalty, but were forced to start overtime a man down for 57 seconds. Navy successfully killed off that penalty, as well, and both teams pressed hard for the game winning goal in the five-minute overtime session, to no avail.
In the shootout, URI's first three shooters -- Krannich, Evan Dietz, and Devin Sheehan - were thwarted by Navy's Marshall. Unfortunately, Navy's first three snipers -- Pulver, Chandler Brewer, and Carlson -- were similarly stopped by Spagnoli. In the sudden death second round, the Rams' Falasca scored, while the Mids' Calen Mims was stopped with a strong Spagnoli glove save, giving the visitors the victory.
Marshall finished with 44 saves, many of them incredible, while Spagnoli had 21 stops.
"I was tremendously proud of our team tonight," said coach Mike Fox. "They gave it their all for 65 minutes and deserved to come away with the win. We showed a lot of heart and passion out there tonight and as a coach, that's all you can ask. Every single guy gave 100%, and I thought Jameson (Marshall) played an amazing game. We have improved a lot as the season has progressed, and I fully expect our improvement to continue."
URI 0 1 2 (1) - 4
NAVY 1 1 1 (0) - 3
N - Carlson 14 (Pulver, Csutoros) 9:51 PP
URI - Krannich (Dietz) 6:48 PP
N - Heitman 4 (Pulver, Carlson) 14:05
URI - Lang (Weston) 4:18
N - Pulver 12 (Heitman) 7:30
URI - Falasca (unassisted) 8:41
URI - Krannich x
N - Pulver x
URI - Dietz x
N - Brewer x
URI - Sheehan x
N - Carlson x
URI - Falasca +
N - Mims x
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