ECRHA Division I Regular Season
Champions for the First Time
past Sunday, February 24, 2013, at their home rink and on their home surface
where they only have the opportunity to play home games two weekends per year,
the Hofstra University Roller Hockey Club’s Division I team made club history
as they wrapped up the ECRHA (Eastern Collegiate Roller Hockey Association)
regular season on top of the league standings – a feat they have never
accomplished in the club’s eleven-year existence.
Heading into the last regular season weekend at Skate Safe
America in Old Bethpage, NY, with three games remaining on the schedule, the
Division I team needed to claim five out of six possible points (2 points for a
win & 1 for a tie) to finish with the top seed in the divisional standings
before the playoff rounds begin in March.
Saturday’s match-ups included University of Rhode Island, a team that
Hofstra had defeated three times earlier in the year by the scores of 10-0,
8-1, and 10-3, and Stonybrook University, who had previously fallen to Hofstra
6-0 and 10-1 in the Fall semester.
While the final scores were closer this time around, there
was no difference as far as the outcomes were concerned.
Hofstra rallied back from a 2-0 deficit to
defeat URI 3-2, followed by a 5-0 win over SBU in front of a packed-out, rowdy,
blue and gold thunder-stick waving crowd for the local rival game.
Heading into their final regular season game on Sunday at
1:00pm, Hofstra represented a 15-1-1 league record, with their only loss of the
season coming from SUNY Brockport – the same team they were about to face off
against in this final game of the club’s best Division I season to date.
Would Hofstra be up for the challenge to
defeat the team that put them in this position; a position that found Hofstra
scrambling for at least a tie to earn that one point needed for the number one
ranking in the ECRHA division?
with the hopes to achieve such an accomplishment and to add to such a
suspenseful ending of a season, this day also represented the club’s senior
players’ last day of ever playing a collegiate game in their home rink in front
of their home crowd.
With the dramatic setting in place, along with another
packed house of hometown friends and family members, the puck dropped.
In a back and forth matchup, Hofstra found
themselves trailing 3-1 early in the second period.
Captain and Senior forward, Pat Rosa,
responded with a power-play goal 1:33 later, and once again with his second
goal of the contest just over five minutes later.
Assistant Captain and Junior forward, Rich
Schwartz, tallied the go-ahead goal at the 9:42 mark of the second period,
giving Hofstra a 4-3 lead heading into the third period.
Just forty-four seconds into the period
though, Brockport was able to answer and tie the game.
The game would only remain tied for another
1:19, however, as Hofstra Assistant Captain and Senior defenseman, Chris Culot, scored and racked up his fourth point of the afternoon.
Rosa collected his third goal of the game
just 1:54 later, assisted by Culot, extending Hofstra’s lead to 6-4 with seven
minutes still remaining in the final period of play.
Brockport cut Hofstra’s lead to 6-5 with 4:04
remaining in the third, which was then followed by a Hofstra penalty at the
10:17 mark (1:43 remaining in the game).
At this point, remember, Hofstra needed to escape with either a win or a
Even if Brockport were able to
score on their upcoming power-play, Hofstra would still have the chance to get
out of the final period and possibly escape with a tie.
Instead of allowing such a situation to occur, Hofstra had
other plans as Culot, short-handed, notched his sixth point and second goal of
the game to give Hofstra a 7-5 lead with twenty-eight seconds left on the clock,
and insured a league’s and club's best regular season record of 16-1-1.
The buzzer rang.
players left the players bench and swarmed the goal crease of their starting
Senior goaltender, Jared Occhicone.
coaches stood proud on their bench, and shook hands with the coach to the right
and to the left of them.
The players and
coaches walked through the post-game line of handshakes with the Brockport
players and staff.
The Hofstra parents
and friends cheered from the bleacher seats.
The club’s B Team players, dressed in team warm-up suits and sneakers, joined
in on the rink celebration.
and friends walked onto the playing surface to take photographs.
The final scoreboard hung in the background,
displaying a 7-5 victory.
It was an emotional victory for the club, and a long-time goal
of theirs that was earned from many late night and early morning
All of the commitment and
dedication throughout not only this past season, but also the past five years,
was finally rewarded and it clearly showed by the looks of everyone’s faces and
the tears forming in some of their eyes.
While this day and accomplishment is the club’s first goal, which is one
that will go down in club history and is one to certainly enjoy, the club now
hopes to focus on their Regional Playoffs in Feasterville, PA March 7-10, and
NCRHA (National Collegiate Roller Hockey Association) National Championships in
Fort Myers, FL April 8-14…or, in other words…Goal #2 and Goal #3.
The 2013 ECRHA Awards Banquet will be held during the
Regional Playoffs on Friday, March 8.
Culot has been nominated for Division I Most Valuable Player, in which he won
a season ago in 2012, and Occhicone has been nominated for Division I Most Valuable
Goaltender for a second straight year as well.
Stay tuned for the results of the award winners and the team’s playoff