Timothy E. Studley '07 knocked in a rebound goal 9:09 into overtime Wednesday night at Johnson Ice Rink, defeating Westfield State College 5-4 and advancing MIT men's ice hockey to the NorthEast Collegiate Hockey Association semifinals tomorrow in Nashua, New Hampshire.
The Engineers' (12-5-1) veterans played as if they were not ready for their college careers to end. Studley finished with a goal and two assists, Brian A. LaCrosse '07 added a goal and three assists, and John J. Bergin G contributed two goals.
Studley's game-winning goal was made possible by skillful passing in the offensive zone from defenseman Nicholas J. Maietta '07, who found LaCrosse open close to the net for a point-blank shot. Westfield (8-9-4) goalie Chris Motsis was able to make the initial save, but the rebound bounced directly to Studley, who tapped it in to end the game.
The goal averted what would have been a frustrating loss for the Engineers, who were unable to hold leads of 3-1 and 4-2. The 4-2 advantage came 3:20 into the third period on a brilliant individual effort from Bergin, who bulled through a Westfield defender and forced the puck past Motsis.
The Owls cut the deficit to one just under seven minutes later, and James Gropman provided the equalizer with 1:03 remaining in regulation, one-timing a cross-ice pass from Brian Richmond into the right side of the net shortly after his team had pulled their goalie for an extra skater.
The overtime period provided several chances for both teams to end the game. MIT had a golden opportunity four minutes into extra time when defenseman Kevin M. Farino '10 moved in alone towards the net, but Motsis thwarted the attack. Shortly thereafter Tech netminder Thomas A. Hopkins '07 made his best save of the game, using his blocker to tip wide a hard slap shot from Mike Gropman, who had broken free in the slot.
Early on in the contest MIT dominated possession of the puck, and the action was centered around Westefield's net, but the Owls were the ones to open the scoring. Midway through the first period Richmond took advantage of a rebound to put Westfield up 1-0, but LaCrosse answered less than five minutes later, and the first intermission arrived with the teams deadlocked at one.
The second period featured the most aesthetically pleasing goal of the game when LaCrosse and Studley executed cross-ice passes to find Jeremy D. Myers '08 in front of the net for a 2-1 lead. Bergin converted a deflection three minutes later to stretch the lead to 3-1, but Mike O'Keefe pulled the Owls to within one with only 1:03 remaining until the second intermission after Richmond was able to get behind the Engineers' back line.