Huntsville Advance to Last CHA Final
by Becky Ebert/CHN Reporter
NIAGARA, N.Y. Next season, Robert Morris will get a chance to play for an automatic NCAA bid as a member of Atlantic Hockey. Alabama-Huntsville won't have a similar opportunity.
UAH played with that kind of desperation, like this could be its last chance for a while. Though it wasn’t until 11:57 into the second period that there was an actual score, a goal that would ultimately win the game.
The goal, by Neil Ruffini, gave the Chargers a 1-0 win over Robert Morris in the first CHA tournament semifinal game of the evening. UAH awaits the winner of host Niagara and Bemidji State.
“We talked about this before, all the games between Niagara, Robert Morris and Huntsville are pretty tight, usually one or two goal games,” said UAH coach Danton Cole, “There wasn’t a lot of open space out there.”
On its fourth power-play opportunity, UAH forward Neil Ruffini beat goaltender Brooks Ostergard on a tip-in.
“I went to the front of the net and tried my best to get in front of the goalie’s eyes,” Ruffini said. “I managed to get a stick on it and it went top corner.”
With 2:21 remaining in the game, the Colonials took a timeout with just 47 seconds left on the power play, but their game plan was cut short when Chris Kushneriuk was issued a two-minute minor for hooking. Kushneriuk was eventually thrown out of the game for angrily slashing his stick along the boards.
With Ostergard pulled for the extra attacker, the Colonials poured on the shots every chance they got. Unfortunately, their efforts were unsuccessful, mainly due to the many blocked shots of UAH and the play of goalie Cameron Talbot, who stopped all 29 shots faced.
“It’s a shame that a tip goal decided it,” said Coach Schooley, “I think we threw everything that we could at the end; I don’t know how many more chances we could’ve had.”
Tomorrow, UAH gets that last chance at an NCAA bid.
“We just have to come out for another 60 minutes with our noses to the grind stone,” said Ruffini, “Today my tip went in, but tomorrow it might not.”