UTICA, N.Y. — In the fourth-longest game in NCAA Division III men’s ice hockey history, the fourth-seeded Elmira College Soaring Eagles (9-4-1) outlasted top-seeded Utica College (8-2-0) in triple overtime, 2-1, to secure a spot in the United Collegiate Hockey Conference title game.
Elmira, New York, native Bailey Krawczyk ’24 delivered the game-winning goal for the Soaring Eagles at 5:46 of the third overtime period. The hometown hero made a diving swipe at the puck from just outside the crease, which snuck past Utica’s Sean Dickson for the goal. Passes from Janis Vizbelis’24 and Graham Denomme ’23 set up the game-winning tally.
As good as the finish was tonight, the effort from senior goaltender Chris Janzen ’21 may have been better. The native of Pelham, Ontario, finished with a career-high 62 saves in 105:46 of action. He made double-digit saves in each period, with the exception of the third overtime session, and held Utica’s power play scoreless on three chances.
In the first period, Chance Gorman ’24 put the Purple and Gold on top at 14:51. An outlet pass from Ryan Reifler ’24 connected with Jared Smith ’24, one that set up a 2-on-1 rush for Smith and Gorman. Smith centered a pass to Gorman on the post, where he one-timed it past a sprawled out Dickson.
Brett Everson evened the contest, 1-1, at 6:17 of the second period. Brandon Osmundson slid a pass from behind the net to Everson in the slot, where he spun, shot, and scored.
The Pioneers pressed in the second period and had a bevy quality looks, but Elmira’s defense came up clutch in several key situations. Right around the 10 minute mark, Utica had a 2-on-1 rush that was broken up by a diving effort from Mitch Haight ’24. Then, just two minutes later, Chris Janzen ’21 made a pair of reactionary saves from close range to deny the Pioneers and keep the game tied at 1-1.
In the third period, Elmira had a pair of quality looks early on. At 5:09, EC had a 3-on-1 with Amedo Mastrangeli ’24 leading the charge. Mastrangeli faked a pass before taking a shot from the slot, but Dickson came up with the save.
Then, around the six minute mark, Shawn Kennedy ’24 had a one-on-one with Dickson. The rookie forward deked and opted to lift the puck with the backside of his blade, but Dickson did just enough at the last second to force the shot to miss wide.
Utica wasn’t without chances of its own. A redirected shot from the slot around 12:20 was pushed away by Janzen and he followed it up with another save on the rebound. Janzen finished with 12 saves in the period, and Elmira needed all of them, as the Soaring Eagles forced overtime.
In the first overtime session, Elmira might have had the best chance to win the game just two minutes in when a turnover occurred behind the Utica goal. The turnover led to a shot from Janis Vizbelis ’24 at the right post, but Dickson smothered the shot to keep EC off of the scoreboard.
Elmira had another close call around 12:30 when EC’s captain, Adam Eby ’21, fired a shot from the blue line and through traffic. His attempt weaved through bodies but was nabbed out of the air by the glove of Dickson.
Utica doubled Elmira’s shot total in the second overtime period, 12-6, and had a two-minute power play but was unable to convert on those chances. On the power play, Utica’s best opportunity came from a one-timer in the slot. However, Janzen snagged the puck through traffic to deny the Pioneers.
EC’s best chance of the second overtime came at the 17:26 mark, when Nicholas Domitrovic ’24 raced past the last defender to set up a one-on-one with Dickson. However, the defenseman recovered on the play and forced Domitrovic to miss the attempt as he knocked the net off of its pegs.
Then, in the third overtime session, Krawczyk delivered in the biggest moment of his young career as he punched in the game-winning goal on a diving effort at the 5:46 mark to send the Soaring Eagles to the UCHC title game.
News and Notes
- Elmira advanced to the UCHC title game with tonight’s win.
- Elmira collected its first overtime win in a playoff game since 2/21/07.
- Elmira makes its first appearance in a UCHC championship game since the league’s inception in 2017-18.
- The Soaring Eagles will face the Mustangs of Stevenson for the UCHC Pat Thompson Trophy.
- EC snapped Utica’s streak of five consecutive conference title game appearances.
- With 105:46 played, it was the fourth-longest game in NCAA Division III men’s ice hockey history.
- Janzen made a career-high 62 saves to earn the win.
- Krawczyk scored tonight’s game-winning goal in the third overtime period.
The Soaring Eagles conclude the season on Monday, April 5, when they travel to Reisterstown, Maryland, to face second-seeded Stevenson University in the UCHC title game. The battle for the Pat Thompson Trophy is scheduled for 4:00 p.m.