Marauders Tie Muhlenberg

Stop us if you’ve heard this one before. The Millersville Marauders played to a tie against the Muhlenberg Mules on Friday, 3-3. The last time this happened was in 2010, when in the last game of the season, Muhlenberg tied Millersville, shutting them out of the playoffs. This situation wasn’t nearly as dire.

Coach Ryan Behnken began the game with jumbled lines to get his team going defensively. Muhlenberg started off with a lot of jump, however. Midway through the first period, Matt Conner won a faceoff and the Mules controlled the puck deep in the zone. Muhlenberg’s leading scorer Alex Busa dragged it up the wall, Conner deflected the puck to the point where defenseman Kyle Kepple uncorked a wrist shot that found the net to give the home team the lead.

It took a while for the terrible ice surface at The Rink at Lehigh Valley to be tamed by the Marauders. The sand-based rink caused several bouncing pucks and weird bounces. After a Muhlenberg penalty, the Marauders put serious pressure on during the man advantage. As the penalty was expiring, Nick Mullarkey fired a slap shot that caught up in skates. The puck sat in the slot, bouncing around for a while. The puck popped loose to Sean Nielsen, and with how hot Nielsen is, he scored easily, tying the game at one. That was Nielsen’s sixth goal in his last five games, and his seventh of the year.

Coach Ryan Behnken fixed his lines after fiddling with them for a couple games in the second period. The first and second lines returned to normal as Mike Carpenter, Read Bohon and Mullarkey moved from defense back to forward.

Penalty trouble became very prevalent in the second period. Millersville’s Chris Collins and Tim DiRugeris made their way to the box multiple times during the period, giving Muhlenberg a sizable advantage throughout the frame. After Collins was flagged for tripping halfway through the second, Muhlenberg had a huge scoring opportunity. The referee determined a player closed his hand on the puck in the crease, leading to a penalty shot.

Lucas Esposito was chosen to take the shot. After twirling in his own zone, Esposito moved straight up the middle, moved to his backhand and then slipped a forehand shot through the five hole of Eric Hench to give the Mules a 2-1 advantage.

The scoring did not change until the third period. The Marauders used the bouncing puck to their advantage. Mules Defenseman Mike Moffat had tons of trouble getting the puck out three separate times against the Millersville first line. Jake Bongiovanni and Nielsen did tremendous work keeping the puck alive at the points and keeping the puck in the zone. Bohon took a pass from behind the net and fed the puck to the front to a cruising Nick Mullarkey who fired it home to tie the game at two.

The pressure continued to mount against Muhlenberg. The Mules had zero traction getting the puck from the defense to the forwards. Nielsen picked off a pass in the neutral zone and chipped the puck ahead for Carpenter. Carpenter battled two defenders in the corner, and he kicked the puck deep for Bohon. Bohon aptly saw Travis Duffey creeping in from the slot, and fed him for a one-timer that beat Conner McWilliams over the shoulder to give the Ville the lead.

Late in the third, DiRugeris took his second trip to the box. It only took seven seconds for Muhlenberg to tie it up. Matt Frank took a great pass from Busa after the puck skipped around in the slot. Frank cranked the puck into the net to tie it up at three.

Under GNCHC rules, if a five minute overtime session solves nothing, the game ends in a tie. 40 seconds into the overtime, the Marauders didn’t help their chances. Austin Reaser annihilated Alex Busa coming out of the zone with a hit up high. He was assessed a five minute major for head contact and a ten minute misconduct, putting the Marauders shorthanded for the rest of the game…or so they thought.

Just two minutes later after Muhlenberg had some scoring opportunities, D’Aloia took an unintelligent penalty to even man-power at 3-on-3. No team could score, however, and the game ended in a tie. Hench made 28 saves in the game.