Freshman defenseman Mike Prsa, the game’s most outstanding player, scored a goal and assisted on three others, and senior goalie Jamie Vanek made 27 saves to lift Wentworth to a 5-1 win over Lebanon Valley and give the Leopards their second consecutive — and third in the last four seasons — ECAC Northeast Championship in front of a Matthews Arena crowd of 500.
The Leopards led from start to finish and got their first goal of the game when junior defenseman Chris Hartly received a pass from sophomore forward Jayden Der in the slot and fired a one-timer past Lebanon Valley freshman goaltender Sonny Holding at 12:13 of the first period. Wentworth increased its lead to 2-0 at 15:33 of the first when Prsa put home a rebound of sophomore forward Brad Carpenter shot.
After a scoreless second period Wentworth upped its lead to 3-0 at 5:24 of the third stanza when Carpenter tallied from sophomore forward Bill Clifford and Prsa. The Flying Dutchmen got their lone goal of the contest at the 7:00 mark when senior forward Brian Yingling notched his 36th goal of the year, a power-play tally, as he went top shelf to beat Vanek. That goal was the first extra-man goal the Leopards had allowed in their last 32 shorthanded situations.
Junior forward Alex Marinkovich notched a pair of power play tallies, assisted both times by Prsa and freshman defenseman Blayne Goodman, at 12:43 and 15:03, respectively, to ice the game.
Holding turned aside eight shots in the first period and was tabbed with the loss. Freshman Joe Burley played the final 40:00 and made 18 saves on 21 shots. The Flying Dutchmen, making their third consecutive appearance in the title game, end their season at 20-6-1.
With the win, the Leopards improve to 21-4-3 and become the first ECAC Northeast team since UMass Dartmouth in 1996-97 and 1997-98 to claim back-to-back titles. Wentworth also became the first ECAC Northeast team since the 2000 Leopards to win the title on home ice.
The Leopards now await word on whom they will play in the NCAA tournament, which begins either Wednesday or Saturday. It will be the second consecutive trip to the NCAAs for Wentworth, which, in addition to last season’s berth, also earned a berth in 2000.