By Art Chill
WEST CHESTER, PA – For the first time, the Roadrunners are going to the ACHA post season. This amazing feat in only the program’s fourth year. The team ended the regular season ranked third in the Atlantic Region. The first and second ranked teams, Farmingdale and Fairfield, drew byes and automatically were awarded bids to the Nationals. Being ranked third gave Ramapo the highest seed in the Atlantic Region playoffs. They drew the number ten team Massachusetts Marine Academy; a team Ramapo had never faced before. In order to qualify for Nationals, the Roadrunners would have to win both games in the single-elimination format. If the Roadrunners won their game against MMA, they would play the winner of the 6-7 seeded teams, Rowan and IUP, the following day.
As the game started, it appeared the Roadrunners did not come to play. The Buccaneers scored just 17 seconds into the game. MMA opened their lead to 2-0 at 3:41. Ramapo would cut the lead in half at 6:15 on a goal by Derek Sabato. Gary Ragusa assisted on the goal. The Buccaneers upped their lead at 12:20 and 16:00 to take a 4-1 lead into the locker room. The Academy outshot Ramapo by a 6-1 ratio (24-4). The second period was evenly played with both teams scoring a goal. Kyle DeBel tallied the lone Ramapo goal with Keith Doherty and Eddie Dahdah credited with assists. Sean Gordon kept Ramapo in the game making 42 saves, 21 in each the first and second periods. The Roadrunners entered the third period down 5-2 with a berth to Nationals on the line. The Bucs opened the scoring early at 2:39 to up their lead to 6-2. It appeared to be an insurmountable lead which would send the Roadrunners home, unless the tide quickly changed. Something clicked and Ramapo came back with a vengeance just 12 seconds later to make it a 3-goal deficit. DeBel scored on assists by Dahdah and Keith Henning. That was the start of the comeback. One-minute later Doherty from Henning cut the score to 6-4. Just 1:37 later DeBel completed his hat trick. Ragusa and Dahdah assisted on the goal. Now the game was just a one goal deficit. But that would be the extent of the scoring until 18:09 when Dahdah knotted the score at 6. DeBel had the loan assist. It appeared that the game was headed to sudden-death overtime. However, Ramapo lost the puck at their blue line and Tm Glenn from MMA skated in and fired a shot from the dot into the Ramapo net to take a 7-6 lead with just 21 seconds left in the season. That was a devastating blow to Ramapo’s chance of making Nationals. With just 21 seconds left, Coach Jensen called a time-out. When play resumed, Jensen pulled Gordon for an extra skater. In an ending that rivals the Miracle on Ice of 1980, Ramapo took control of the puck and headed for the Bucs net. There was a pileup in front of the net and Luke Campomenosi picked up the loose puck and banged home the tying goal with just one tenth of a second remaining in the game. Doherty received an assist. The official time of the goal was 19:59.9! The joy of the moment had to be shelved as there was a sudden-death overtime to be played. The Roadrunners were not to be denied. Doherty from DeBel at 3:21 moved Ramapo to the final round against Indiana University of PA, who defeated Rowan University earlier in the day. Sean Gordon turned away 53 Bucs’ shots in the win. In a Hollywood ending, the Roadrunners pulled out an 8-7 overtime victory to live one more day.