The University of Pittsburgh at Greensburg club ice hockey team is the 2014 College Ice Hockey Association (CIHA) national champion after defeating the University of California-San Diego 2-0 in the final round of the tournament held Saturday (4/5) evening.
Described as hard fought and filled with long stretches of defense and penalty kills, the win gave the Bobcat Division III club ice hockey team the campus’ first-ever national championship in the schools’ 51-year history. Junior Anthony Maroadi scored the team’s two goals with an assist from junior Nico Vecchio. Goalie Ryan Palonis, also a junior, earned his first national playoffs shutout. Head Coach Tim Baldwin and Assistant Coach Brandon Laskey guided the team to this achievement.
The Founder’s Cup National Playoffs were held April 3, 4, and 5 at the Lou & Gib Reese Ice Arena, Newark, OH. Pitt-Greensburg entered the tournament ranked number three in their tier and number seven in the nation (MyHockeyRankings.com). The Bobcats earned a spot in the national playoffs by winning the 2014 College Hockey East CIHA League Cup on February 2 after defeating Carnegie Mellon University and the Community College of Allegheny County.
“It’s been a great experience,” said Head Coach Tim Baldwin. “Every team has its up and downs, but when we started climbing this season, we just kept going up and up to end the season with the league and national championships.”
In the first round of the tournament, played April 3, the Bobcats took on the number nine team in the nation, Union College, and won 9-3. Goals were scored by Vecchio, senior Cody Sackmann-Staves, Maroadi, senior Ryan Kopcho, and junior John Rouse.
The semi-final round, played April 4, pitted Pitt-Greensburg against the number-one ranked team in the nation, Xavier University. In what proved to be an emotional game filled with strong play by both teams, the Bobcats defeated the Musketeers 7-5. Freshmen DJ Petrovay and Dan Merz, junior Zachary Frantick, and Vecchio scored for the Blue & Gold.
“The guys ran our system the way it was designed,” said Baldwin of the team’s play in the tournament. “They never gave their opponents an inch on the ice. We worked for everything we got, and we’re the team that came out on top.”
Three seniors will graduate, leaving a solid core of 17 returning players. “They’re all hard working and dedicated,” he says of this year’s team. “They were willing to do whatever was necessary to achieve our goals. The right things came together from the players to the volunteers to the coaches.”
Pitt-Greensburg finished the 2013-2014 season 24-6-0, scoring 283 goals (9.5 goals/game) and allowing only 123 goals against (4.10 goals against/game). This is the third season that the Bobcats have played in the post-season series, finishing in second place in the 2012-2013 CHA playoffs.
Baldwin is quick to thank the University, the players, the volunteers, the coaching staff, and the fans. ”Without them this wouldn’t have happened. We couldn’t have done this without all of their support.”
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