Cardiac Marauders

If you expected the run to the championship to be easy, guess again. Millersville defeated West Chester in round one 7-4 and Gettysburg 5-4 in two consecutive back-and-forth tilts to move on to the championship game against Kutztown.

In game one, Millersville took an early lead. Defenseman Sean Nielsen not only struck first, but in a sense, drew the penalty to put the Marauders on an early power play. The West Chester Golden Rams fielded a player in the starting lineups that was not on the official score sheet—an automatic penalty.

After West Chester tied it up shortly thereafter, Read Bohon and Austin Reaser added two goals later in the first frame to give the Marauders a two-goal lead going into the intermission.

In the second, West Chester scored twice within the first 1:20 of the second period to tie the game at three. That was the only sniff the Golden Rams would get, even though it seemed as if WCU had all the momentum at that point. The resilient Marauders proved that the momentum was theirs to keep. 

Bohon would add another two goals in the second period to complete the hat trick. His hat trick consisted of a goal at even strength, one on the power play, and one shorthanded; perhaps his best effort coming on the shorthanded goal. A hat trick of a hat trick, so to speak.

“The team played amazing besides a ten minute let down,” Nielsen said. “Our power play was really working tonight and top to bottom we were strong. We need to continue that through the next few games.”

Nielsen and Zach Juliano would salt the game away for the Marauders in the final frame, who picked up the victory in round one. West Chester added a late tally, but in the end, it did not matter. 

“I think we got lucky in the second period that we could hold on,” head coach Ryan Behnken said. “The first six minutes of every period, [West Chester] came out flying. I give them credit.”

No matter what kind of response West Chester came up with, Millersville showed resilience to come back, and it all stems back to what Behnken has called “the process” throughout the whole year.

“We’re attacking instead of letting the play come to us. We’re making teams make decisions, and when you make guys make decisions it becomes very tough. We’re taking the play to them. That’s the process.”

Freshman goaltender Dustin Jagiela, a former Perkiomen Valley Viking championship netminder, picked up his first collegiate playoff win.

“There’s definitely a lot more adrenaline flowing during the playoffs,” Jagiela said. “You can’t let bad bounces and lack of focus get to you. You just gotta come out and play to win.”

As a result of Gettysburg defeating Rutgers in round one, Millersville moved on to play the Bullets. Millersville had previously defeated Gettysburg just a week prior, 5-2, in perhaps their best defensive effort of the year. The Marauders dominated at even strength and controlled the tempo for the entire 60 minutes. 

Expecting that kind of game again would have been foolish because it is the playoffs, after all.

The Marauders got off on the right foot in the semifinal game. On their first man advantage early in the first period, Bohon continued his hot streak, scoring on the power play to give the Ville a 1-0 lead. It would take another 20 minutes for Gettysburg’s Bobby MacDonald to tie it up at 1 on a booming slap shot from the left circle.

The lackadaisical tempo made for a sloppy game. The fatigue factor set in during the second period, leading to a monumental letdown. A beautiful end-to-end goal by Mike Carpenter on the power play gave Millersville the lead, but in just minutes, the Bullets put the Marauders in danger.

Mike Berestecky received a long stretch pass after a botched line change and deked out Jagiela to tie it up just seconds later. Not long after that, in a similar play on a missed pinch by Nielsen at the left point, Josh Pettengill danced around the checking of Mackenzie Sapia on a 1-on-1 counter rush and put on a pretty move to score and give the Bullets a one goal lead.

The third period deepened the already bleeding wound. Bobby MacDonald scored his second goal of the game on the power play, giving Gettysburg a 4-2 lead with 18 minutes to go.

“We played ten minutes of hockey today,” Behnken said. “You get lucky every once in a while. Sometimes it’s better to be lucky than good.”

The unlikely “ten minutes of hockey” comeback began with a developing freshman forward, Josh Feehan. It ended with a monumental letdown at the other end of the ice.

Feehan ripped a shot off the faceoff over top of goaltender Sam Shockley to cut the lead to one. Then, minutes later during a scramble, Feehan lifted the puck over Shockley to tie the game at four. 

Surprisingly enough, just 12 hours prior, Feehan battled dehydration and had to sit out most of the contest against West Chester because of that.

“You gotta find that hole, find and opening and exploit it,” Behnken said of Feehan’s goal at an unlikely time. “Guys pick their heads up when you score a goal and you’re down by two. [Feehan] definitely stepped up, and that’s the kind of freshman that we need.”

Juliano capped the comeback win with perhaps the most expensive game-winning goal in hockey history. He broke two of his own sticks, one of his teammate’s, and had to use Bohon’s magic stick to rip a shot on a partial break down the left wing past Shockley to give the Ville the lead.

The cardiac ten-minute push ended with Jagiela shutting the door on the Bullets, breaking Gettysburg’s heart, and catapulting Millersville to the final round for the second year in a row. Kutztown, the number one seed, awaits them in the final game at 3:45 p.m. on Sunday.