By Anthony Garcia
In the first round of the American Collegiate Hockey Association (ACHA) Southeast Regional Tournament, the successful season for College’s club hockey team came to end as they lost 3-2 in overtime to Wake Forest University.
“It was a very tough loss against a very good team,” said College President Kathryn Foster, who was at the game sporting a number 16 hockey jersey, which was a gift from the club. “I could not be more proud of our hockey players.”
Despite being outshot by a total of 48-16, the College’s club hockey team managed to take a 2-1 lead late into the third period. But a goal was given up with 4:29 left on the clock to tie it at two each. An odd-man rush by Wake Forest seven seconds into the overtime period ended the game.
“I told the guys it was going to come down to one shot,” said coach Andrew Ducko. “Going into overtime I told them to hope that it’s you that makes the shot that counts.”
This is Ducko’s fifth season as coach. Since he has taken over, the club has seen major growth and success, including four consecutive Colonial Cup Championships. For the first time in program history, the team advanced in the regional tournament last season. However, the Lions weren’t able to duplicate last season’s triumph, as their lead slipped away.
Before the game began, a moment of silence was given in honor of the life of Matthew Palmer, a freshman student at the College who died suddenly on Feb. 21.
Early in the first period, sophomore Jameson Dugan scored the first goal of the game — a piercing shot sent from in front of the neutral zone that snuck in past the goalie.
Later in the first, with two seconds left on a Lions’ penalty kill, Wake Forest tied the game with seven minutes left until the first buzzer. Sophomore Andrew Summa, who already assisted the College’s first goal, scored and made it 2-1 at the end of the first — a score that would last until the third period.
The second period consisted of strong defensive efforts on both sides, including a diving save by sophomore defender Travis Beni. The College’s goalie, junior Michael Lojewski, had an astounding game with 17 saves coming in the second.
“Lojewski is our best player, he makes the saves he needs to make, he’s calm, he composed, he makes us a better hockey team,” Ducko said.
At the end of the second period, there was a scuffle between senior Kris Hastings and a Wake Forest player due to a late check after the end of the period bell. The referees separated the players, but no punishment was given to either team.
The Lions held onto their lead, but Ducko noted they were on their heels as they were being substantially outshot. With 4:29 left in the third, Wake Forest scored the game-tying goal, which sent the game into overtime.
The tension in the rink was palpable before overtime, but it was Wake Forest that scored the first goal of the sudden-death period. Despite the heartbreaking loss, the players embraced Lojewski, who finished with 45 saves.
“After the game we focused on the positives,” Ducko said. “It was a great year.”
Ducko said the club made a stark effort to be the good guys this year — they decided to play this season respectfully and with good spirit: a trait that carried over into the post-game locker room, where the players only complimented each others’ performances.
“It’s tough and it hurts,” Ducko said. “But in the end, I’m proud of our guys.”