A quick victory after a long game has extended the season of the Keene State College Men’s hockey team and has given them a chance to play in the ACHA national tournament for the first time in team history.
According to the Keene State men’s hockey website, the Owls beat out Northeastern University in a 3-2 victory just 55 seconds into overtime. Junior Kurt Mitchell was the one to get his team over the hump after a shift change by Northeastern gave him space to get an open one-timer to hit the back of the net and earn his team a trip to PA for the ACHA Division II National Championship tournament.
Head coach Bobby Rodrigue said that the LEC champion Owls came into the reginal finals ready for the challenge.
“The guys were feeling pretty confident and pretty loose in the fact that people didn’t really expect us to be there to begin with,” Rodrigue said. Forwar Josh Bell said, “It was incredible. Something out of a movie.”
The fairy tale ending didn’t begin with a fairy tale-type introduction. KSC had played Northeastern in the game prior, the Owls survived Central Connecticut in order to advance to the final round of the regional tournament in another close overtime win. During the Northeastern game, KSC found itself behind on the scoreboard on multiple occasions with goals from Ian Penvose and Andrew Brandano.
We just were not playing to our full potential and it showed,” Bell added, “Luckily, we were able to turn it around and beat them,” Bell said. Late into the third period, Andrew Pierce tied the game up. Northeastern scored again a few minutes after, but a shot off the stick of Matt Girard evened the score once again and sent the game into instant death overtime.
Goaltender Dylan Strogen was busy in net while trying to keep his team close on the scoreboard. Strobel made 34 saves on the 36 shots that made their way to his net, two of which were seconds into the overtime period and gave his team enough time to turn the tables.
“Those first two periods were pretty hectic around my net,” Strogen said.
Bell said that Strogen’s efforts to extend his college career and his team’s season into the national tournament made a huge difference.
“He easily saved the game for us. Without him making the big saves that he did, we wouldn’t be where we are today,” Bell said.
The Owls will make their first ever appearance in the national tournament on March 18. They are the third seed in a four seed group taking part in round-robin play. The Owls group includes, Arizona State University, Florida Gulf Coast University and Michigan State University, but Rodrigue said that he won’t know which of those teams the Owls will play against until sometime next week.
To get refocused after their big win, head coach Bobby Rodrigue said that his team is just going to keep doing what it has been doing and get ready for the first puck drop on the national stage
“We’re going to stay consistent to our beliefs,” Rodrigue said, noting the team’s strong defensive play and fast paced skating.
Junior Adin Sobel said that his team has been improving every year that he’s been on the team, and deserves to have a shot at the national championship. “This program has been growing every year. We never take a step back,” Sobel said.
“Obviously we’d love to win a national championship, but I think at the end of the day it comes down to just playing hard, competing, representing our school and our teammates well and going out there and doing out best,” Strogen said.
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