In a tight game throughout, Elmira and Manhattanville traded goals, neither holding a two-goal edge until the Soaring Eagles’ empty netter sealed a 5-3 victory in their ECAC West semifinal match Friday.
Elmira will face RIT in the ECAC West final on Saturday.
“It was another classic Elmira/Manhattanville game,” said Elmira coach Tim Ceglarski. “In just a few short years, this has developed into a great rivalry.”
Dean Jackson scored the game-winning goal with 5:28 remaining in the contest to break the tie. Jackson led a two-on-one break down the ice, and blasted a slapshot past Manhattanville goaltender Jay Chrapala to give Elmira its final lead of the game.
“We knew what [Elmira] was good at, and the game-winning goal was just that,” said Manhattanville coach Keith Levinthal. “We knew they were very good at the transition, and that burned us in the end.”
Elmira carried play from the opening faceoff, putting pressure on the Manhattanville net. The early advantage paid dividends when Elmira took the lead 4:31 into the contest, as Jarrett Konkle received a pass across the slot from Pierre Rivard, and then buried it.
The Soaring Eagles continued to pour on the pressure, but Chrapala made several spectacular saves to keep the Valiants in the game. The Elmira defense was also playing well, forcing most of the Manhattanville shots to be taken from the outside.
The Valiants finally solved Elmira goaltender Greg Fargo late in the first period. Valiants defender Galloway Carroll carried the puck deep into the zone to the corner, and then broke towards the net, before cramming it underneath Fargo to tie the game 15:38 into the first period.
Less than two minutes later, the Valiants took their first lead of the night. Dan Law launched a wicked wrist shot from the right faceoff dot that eluded Fargo for a goal at 17:03. Manhattanville skated into the locker room for the first intermission with a 2-1 lead.
“During the first intermission, we talked about responsibility,” said Ceglarski. “Who wanted it when the game was on the line, and what they were going to do with it. To a person, to the team, all the guys did a great job of shouldering that responsibility.”
Early in the second period, Elmira tied the game up, 2-2. Right off a faceoff just to the left of Chrapala, Josh Piro scored for the Soaring Eagles.
Manhattanville played more aggressively during the second period, taking the body to Elmira. The Valiants retook the lead with a power-play goal at the 15:30 mark. ECAC West Rookie of the Year Tyler Resch did a spin-o-rama move in the slot and slid the puck through traffic and past Fargo for the goal.
Elmira scored a power-play goal of its own just over two minutes later. Craig MacDonald backhanded in a rebound lying in the slot to send the two teams to their locker rooms for the second intermission tied 3-3.
The Manhattanville goal was a shooting gallery early in the third period, as Elmira peppered the net with shot after shot during a power play five minutes in. Chrapala came up with save after save to keep the game tied, and Elmira came away empty handed.
After Jackson’s goal gave Elmira the lead, Ryan Baker slid the puck into the empty Valiant net with 11 seconds remaining to finish the game.