Nobody said it was going to be easy. After steamrolling through the Delaware Valley Collegiate Hockey Conference regular season with a 16-1-0 record, the Penn men's club hockey team needed a come-from-behind effort to beat Kutztown, 5-3, in the conference semifinals. With its league-leading record, Penn clinched a bye in the first round of the DVCHC playoffs. Meanwhile, Kutztown disposed of Millersville, 5-3, on Friday night to earn the right to play Penn the following day. Given Penn's regular season performance, the top-seeded Quakers were the definite favorites going into their match with the fifth-seeded Golden Bears. Moreover, one week prior to Saturday's semifinal, the Quakers soundly defeated Kutztown 7-4 at the Class of 1923 rink. But Saturday's game was a little too close for comfort. The Golden Bears scored twice in the game's opening minutes to immediately put Penn behind the eight ball. "They were both fluke goals," Penn sophomore forward Whit Matthews said. "The first was a controversial goal. The second came on a slapshot from the blue line that Pat [Baude, Penn's goalie] had trouble controlling." The controversy surrounding the first goal centered on the fact that Kutztown appeared to have scored after the goal came off the moorings. Nevertheless, the play was ruled a goal, giving the Golden Bears a 1-0 lead 2:38 into the first period. After adding its second goal 54 seconds later, a third Kutztown goal could have put the game away early, but Baude kept the Quakers in the game. "One of our weaknesses was that we gave up odd-man breaks, but Pat made a lot of big saves on two-on-one [situations]," Matthews said. Penn finally got on the scoreboard with 7:51 remaining in the first period. Matthews scored a power play goal on a nice cross-ice feed from defenseman Colby Zaph that found Matthews parked in front of a wide-open goal. Zaph added a power play goal of his own to knot the score at 2-2 before the first intermission. A little past the halfway mark of the game, the Red and Blue took their first lead of the contest. Sophomore forward Ross Giambalvo scooped up a Baude rebound and took the puck coast-to-coast, en route to a breakaway goal that gave Penn a 3-2 lead. Three minutes later, the Golden Bears responded, but the 3-3 tie was short-lived. Less than a minute after Kutztown tied the game, Penn regained the lead on freshman forward Mike Sand's game-winning goal. The third period was a defensive battle. Neither team was able to score until Penn added an insurance goal when sophomore defenseman Ryan Redpath scored an empty netter for the Red and Blue with 30 seconds left in the contest. Baude finished the game with 23 saves, and Kutztown goalie Adam Spittler stopped 36 shots. "We had been outshooting them, but we weren't jumping on the rebounds," Matthews said. "[Spittler's] team needed him most in the third, and he came up with a lot of big saves." Nevertheless, Kutztown could not get the third-period goal they needed to tie the game, so the DVCHC regular season champions advanced to the finals. Penn will face off against Temple this weekend in a best-of-three series to determine the DVCHC Champion. Temple is the No. 2 seed in the tournament thanks to its 15-2-0 record during the regular season. One of the Owls' two losses came at Penn, where the Quakers beat their Philadelphia rivals, 7-4. "We beat them before, so we can beat them again," Matthews said.Comments powered by Disqus
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