Game 17: Hoyas Keep Playoff Hopes Alive with Big Win vs. George Washington University
There are not many must-win hockey games in which a team battling for the playoffs goes down 3-0 against the team in first place, scores seven unanswered goals, and wins 7-4. This was a special game.
On a cool Saturday evening, January 25, 2020, at The St. James Sports Complex in Springfield, Virginia, the Georgetown Hoyas took the ice with their season on the line. With significant lineup changes due to new additions and students abroad, the revamped Hoyas were prepared for the biggest game of the season. The options were simple: lose and be eliminated from playoff contention, or beat GW. After 60 minutes of Hoya Hockey, the result unequivocally was the latter, as the Hoyas upset GW, which had been and continues to be in first place in the Capitol Division of the Atlantic Coast Collegiate Hockey League (ACCHL).
In front of a raucous crowd filled with fans from both sides of the District, the Hoyas and Colonials went tit-for-tat for the first 19 minutes and 59 seconds. Each team had a handful of scoring opportunities but could not convert. With 15 seconds left in the first period, an errant change by the Hoyas allowed GW to carry the puck through the neutral zone, maneuver through defenders, and put the puck in the back of the net with .4 seconds remaining in the first frame. The Hoyas went into the first intermission down 1-0.
After the intermission, the Hoyas returned flatfooted. GW got to the slot uncontested in the first couple minutes, burying a pair of prime scoring opportunities. By the 18-minute mark of the 2nd period, the Hoyas were down 3-0. It could have been the beginning of a GW onslaught.
But the Hoyas were undeterred. After a goalie change, the Hoyas did not just respond -- they responded furiously. On the ensuing shift, junior Nick Gallo received a pass from junior Jack Cavanaugh below the goal line, finding the cutting Junior Joe Cooley in the slot, burying a goal and cutting the deficit to two. A couple minutes later, senior captain George Brennan picked up a loose puck at the blue line and found the streaking grad student Nick Marin on the other side of the zone, where Marin whipped a wrist shot off the post and in. On a Georgetown PP a couple minutes later, Zach Shpilner moved the puck to Cooley, whipping it through the formation to Matt Gallo, who used a couple hesitation moves to freeze defenders and put the puck in the back of the net. After scoring two goals on nearly 40 shots against GW the last time the teams met, the Hoyas hung three on the board in the span of five minutes to tie the game at 3-3.
The Hoyas were just getting started. Soon after, Cavanaugh picked up an errant breakout pass in the Colonials' zone. He possessed the puck, took two strides to the net, and ripped the puck past the goalie, giving Georgetown its first lead of the night. In the span of seven minutes, the Hoyas turned a 3-0 deficit into a 4-3 lead.
The Hoyas spent the remaining eleven minutes of the second period staving off a Colonials response. Georgetown killed off several questionable penalties, including a lengthy 5-on-3, to head into the second intermission with a 4-3 lead. The newly formed line of captain Rob Churchill, sophomore Adam Cookson, and junior Jack Angelini spent most of the game matching up with GW's top line, one of the best in the ACHA. After several unsuccessful powerplays, GW was out of answers.
The Hoyas came out for the third period hungry for more. Nick Gallo found the back of the net thanks to some nifty passing from Cooley and sophomore Andrew Nestle, while the aforementioned line of Churchill/Cookson/Angelini poured in a pair of third period scores, both pretty goals courtesy of Angelini. GW added a fourth goal in garbage time after seven straight from the Hoyas.
In control of their own destiny and looking to ride their late season momentum, the Hoyas head to Philly on Saturday to take on St. Joe's (currently in second place in the Capitol Division) and solidify their playoff spot.
Next game details: Saturday, February 1, 2020 vs St. Joseph’s University. The game is scheduled to begin at 5:15 pm at the Skatium, located at 1002 Darby Rd, Havertown, Pennsylvania 19083. This is another must-win game for the Hoyas in order to qualify for the ACCHL Championship Playoffs, which will be held on February 14-16 in Winston-Salem, NC. If you are in the area on Saturday, please come out to support the Hoyas.