By Tom Maher
This past weekend, the New York University men’s ice hockey team competed in the American Collegiate Hockey Association (ACHA) National Tournament in Marlborough, MA.
On Friday, the first of three days of pool play, the Violets defeated the Southeast’s #1-ranked team, Florida Gulf Coast University, by a score of 4-3. Senior forward Paul Kazarnovsky scored the game-winner shorthanded with 3:50 remaining and was assisted by junior forward Niko Masotta and sophomore goaltender Sam Daley.
On Saturday, the Violets took on the Central Division’s #2-ranked team, Lindenwood University. Lindenwood was coming off of a 6-3 victory over the West’s #3-ranked Utah State on Friday. Lindenwood jumped out to a 3-1 lead by the midpoint of the game. With goals from sophomore forward Dakota Richardson and junior forward Michael O’Shaughnessy, the Violets tied the game up heading into the 3rd. But two unanswered power-play goals by Lindenwood sealed the deal and NYU had lost their second game of pool play.
On Sunday, the Violets played their last game of pool play against Utah State. NYU took an early lead when captain Dan Fortunato fired the puck past Utah State goalie Bryce Scherschel, with an assist from Kazarnovsky. That goal proved to be the game-winner as the Violets won, 1-0. Sam Daley stopped all 24 shots he faced for his first shutout as a Violet.
The Violets then played the waiting game, awaiting the results of the Florida Gulf Coast-Lindenwood game, the score of which would determine who advanced. NYU needed a Florida Gulf Coast win and at least seven goals to be scored in the game because of the least-goals-against tiebreaker. Florida Gulf Coast did defeat Lindenwood, but by a score of 3-2, not enough for NYU to advance.
Despite the disappointing exit, the Violets’ 2013-2014 run represented a leap forward for the program. They hadn’t competed at Nationals since 2007 and lost all three games of pool play in that year’s tournament. The Violets can also take pride in the knowledge that they defeated both the eventual National Champion (University of New Hampshire) and the runner-up (Florida Gulf Coast), the former of which they defeated twice during the regular season.
“Each year we have taken steps forward and this was an incredible learning experience at the National Tournament,” says head coach Chris Cosentino. “Knowing that we defeated both teams in the championship game and three of the four in the Final Four, we know that we are very close.”
Sophomore goalie Sam Daley’s breakout is also an encouraging sign for the program heading forward. Daley had the best goals-against average (1.50) of any goaltender in the tournament. “Sam Daley has proven that he is a top goaltender in the league and now at the National Tournament level,” says Cosentino. “He is the future of our program and we have all the confidence in him that he will lead us to the National Tournament once again next year.”
Cosentino is confident that the results can only get better going forward. “We have a lot of talent and experience coming back and a very strong recruiting class coming in with players that can make an immediate impact on and off the ice.”
With 18 All-Academic Honorees, more than any other team in their conference, the Violets got the job done in the classroom as well this season. Seniors Tim Gumaer (A), Paul Kazarnovsky, Robert Moskalewicz, Jr., and grad student Chris Tennekoon will all be graduating in May.
With 13 rising seniors, the Violets will be even more experienced and mature next season, ready to take the next step and bring the National Championship to Manhattan.