March 21, 2009 PRINT Bookmark and Share

Best Night Ever?

by Adam Wodon/Managing Editor

Colin Greening beats Princeton's Zane Kalemba in double OT to get Cornell to the ECAC final. (photo: Adriano Manocchia)

Colin Greening beats Princeton's Zane Kalemba in double OT to get Cornell to the ECAC final. (photo: Adriano Manocchia)

Eight years ago, I wrote an article that suggested a particular conference tournament quarterfinal weekend was the greatest ever.

Well, last night, the "Friday Conference Tournament Semifinal Night," could have been the most exhilarating day in college hockey history. If you were home with a satellite dish and a quick remote finger, you went through one heckuva ride.

Take a look: There were 10 semifinal games yesterday, and half of them — amazingly — included extra attacker goals that tied the game in the last minutes. And in two of those five, another goal was subsequently scored in regulation. The other three went to overtime, one to double overtime.

Of the other five games, Boston University's win — over its archrival — was decided by a three-goal spurt in 44 seconds, a Hockey East tournament record. In another one, the upstart No. 7-seeded Minnesota-Duluth Bulldogs — swept at home two weeks ago by Alaska-Anchorage — shut out North Dakota to reach the final.

But getting back to those five stunning finishes:

* Yale trailed 3-2 against St. Lawrence, scored with 1:28 remaining to tie, then added another 22 seconds later to win it.

* Cornell trailed 3-1 against Princeton, scored with just under three minutes remaining to cut the deficit in half — on one of the prettiest end-to-end rushes you'll ever see — scored an extra attacker goal with 25 seconds left in regulation to tie it, then won in double overtime.

* Northern Michigan scored an extra attacker goal with 1:23 remaining, tying it 1-1, only to have Notre Dame score 23 seconds to win the game.

* RIT trailed 4-3, then scored with the extra attacker with 59 seconds remaining in regulation. Mercyhurst won the game in overtime, 2:19 in.

* Finally, Massachusetts-Lowell, which has had a recent history of this cardiac conclusions, tied Northeastern, 2-2, with 20 seconds remaining in regulation, then won it three minutes into overtime.

The ECAC, in particular, was a highlight of the night. The four teams in Albany were all in the Top 15 of the Pairwise entering the weekend, an unprecedented point in the ECACs history. It's something that's common for the WCHA and Hockey East, but not typical for the ECAC. Any of the four teams had a chance to win the tournament, and win games in the NCAAs, and this Friday's semifinals only bore that out. It's a shame one of those teams will not make the NCAAs.

Saturday will consist of five finals, and an ECAC consolation game where the winner will make the NCAAs, and the loser will not. Can it top Friday's frenetic, fantastic finales?

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