Trinity Men's Ice Hockey Hosts Plattsburgh State In NCAA Opener Saturday Night

Trinity Men's Ice Hockey Hosts Plattsburgh State In NCAA Opener Saturday Night

Hartford, Conn. - The Trinity College men's hockey team earned an automatic bid to the NCAA Division III Championship Tournament after its thrilling, 3-2 overtime victory on Sunday at Hamilton in the New England Small College Athletic Conference (NESCAC) title game. The Bantams, coached by Matt Greason (6th Season), will host the SUNY Plattsburgh Cardinals on Saturday, March 11 at 7 p.m. in the opening round of the NCAA Tourney.  Tickets will be $6 for adults, $4 for students with ID, and $3 for children and senior citizens.  All Trinity students with ID will be admitted free courtesy of the Trinity College Athletic Department.  Trinity and Plattsburgh State last met in the postseason during Trinity's 2014-15 title run where the Bantams knocked off the Cardinals, 5-1, in the quarterfinals.  Saturday night's winner will advance to quarterfinals next weekend against either Hobart or Endicott.  

Game Notes

The Bantams, who won the NCAA Division III crown in 2015, are 18-6-3 and ranked No. 8 in the D3Hockey.com National Poll and tied for No. 9 in the United States College Hockey Online.com Division III National Poll.  Trinity will be hosting an NCAA ice hockey game for the fourth time in three seasons, but lost, 4-0, to Mass.-Boston in last year's opening round game in Hartford after winning two NCAA home games in 2015.  Trinity finished third in the NESCAC standings with a 11-5-2 conference mark, and downed Tufts, 4-1, and Williams, 4-2, in the league tournament before capturing its second consecutive conference crown with the road win against the Continentals. 

Senior forward Ryan Cole (Anchorage, Alaska) scored once in the semifinal win against Williams and added the game-winner in overtime against Hamilton.  He was named as the NESCAC Player of the Week for the second time this winter for his fine performance.  First-year defenseman Liam Feeney (Foxboro, Mass.) and senior forward Brandon Cole (Anchorage, Alaska) also scored on Sunday, while Feeney and junior forward Anthony Sabitsky (Sicklerville, N.J.) assisted on the clincher, and Sabitsky also assisted on Feeney's tally.  Junior goaltender Alex Morin (St. Hubert, Quebec) made 36 saves to improve to 16-6-3. Sabitsky was named to the All-NESCAC First Team last week and senior forward Sean Orlando (Ivyland, Pa.) graced the All-NESCAC Second Team.

Trinity sat at 3-3 on December 2 but closed the 2016 calendar year with a 3-0-1 mark that included a 4-4 stalemate at NCAA-bound Hobart and closed with a 2-1 win at NCAA-bound Adrian on New Year's Eve Day.  The Bantams stumbled with a 2-2 start to the month of January, but have been one of the hottest teams in the country since then with a 10-1-2 record over its last 13 contests and eight wins in a row.  The Bantams are one of two NESCAC schools competing for the national title as Hamilton received an at-large invitation.  

Trinity previously reached the tournament in 2003, 2005 and 2008, and 2016, advanced to the NCAA Frozen Four in 2005, and made a historic run through the 2015 tourney to capture the first NCAA crown in program history.  That year, Trinity defeated Nichols, 4-2, and Plattsburgh State, 5-1, at home and Adrian, 5-3, and Wisc.-Stevens Point, 5-2, in the NCAA Frozen Four in Minneapolis. The Bantams are 2-1-1 against the tournament field with a 1-1-1 mark against NESCAC rival Hamilton, the tie at Hobart, and the win at Adrian.

Trinity owns the top scoring offense in the NESCAC, averaging 4.19 goals per game (T10th in nation), as the Bantams boast four of the top-five point producers in the NESCAC, all of whom have accumulated at least 30 points this winter.  Orlando has 15 goals (0.56 per game, 3rd in NESCAC) and adds 18 assists (0.67 per game, 8th in NESCAC) for a NESCAC best 33 points, while junior forward Tyler Whitney (Wakefield, Mass.) tops the conference in assists with 20 to go with 12 goals for 32 points (1.19 per game, T2nd in NESCAC). Sabitsky has a team-high 16 goals (0.59 per game, 2nd in NESCAC) with 15 helpers for 31 points (1.15 per game, 4th in NESCAC) and Ryan Cole has 30 points (1.11 per game, 5th in NESCAC) on 13 goals (0.48 per game, T8th in NESCAC), including five game-winners, and 17 assists. Ryan Cole leads the nation with six game-winning goals, while Whitney is tied for the NESCAC lead in power-play goals with six, followed by both Orlando and Sabitsky in fifth with five apiece.  First-year forward Barclay Gammill (New Canaan, Conn.) has been a welcomed offensive weapon with 16 points (T4th-best in NESCAC among rookies) on nine goals and seven assists in 22 games.  

Senior captain Sam Johnson (Dallas, Texas) and Feeney, the third-most prolific scorer among defensemen and rookies in the league with five goals and 15 assists, anchor the efficient Trinity blue line, as the Bantams own the second-best defense in the conference at 1.85 goals allowed per game (4th in nation). Morin ranks third in the league in goals against average at 1.80 (7th in nation) to go with 602 saves, a .930 save percentage (14th in nation), and three shutouts.  Morin ranks third in the league in goals against average (1.79) to go with 540 saves, a .929 save percentage, and three shutouts among his 14 wins. Senior T.J. Sherman (Chesterfield, Mo.) and juniors Connor Hegarty (Wakefield, Mass.) and Griffyn Martin (Southport, Conn.) have also played big roles on the Bantam back line that has held Trinity opponents scoreless on power plays 89 percent of the time (5th in nation).  

Plattsburgh State, coached by Bob Emery (28th Season), makes its 24th NCAA Championship appearance and its third in six years. The Cardinals are winless in their last four tournament games, with their last victory coming against Middlebury in the 2010 quarterfinals.  Their balanced offense is led by freshman forward Joe Drabin (Rochester, N.Y.) with 11 goals and 10 assists for 21 points, junior Ayrton Valente (Woodbridge, Ontario) with six goals and a team-high 15 assists, and sophomore forward Cole Stallard (Waleska, Ga.) with a team-high 12 goals and eight assists.  The Cardinal blue line is anchored by a rookie Philip Middleton (Vail, Colo.), who also adds five goals and 11 helpers on the offensive end, and senior Brady Rouleau (Fort Macleod, Alberta) has a 2.84 GAA and a .895 save percentage between the pipes for Plattsburgh State.

Plattsburgh State and Trinity have met four times in the past with the Cardinals winning the first three meetings before the Bantam win two years ago in the NCAA Quarterfinals.  The Cardinals are 2-2 against the NCAA field this season with two road triumphs over Oswego State and home losses to Norwich and Oswego State, while the Bantams and the Beacons have three common opponents.  Both teams swept two games against Middlebury, while Trinity took two of three from Williams and Plattsburgh downed Williams, 3-1, at home.  The Bantams swept Wesleyan and Plattsburgh State defeated them at home, 5-3, in the W.B. Mason Classic.  

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