By Art Chill
WARMINSTER, PA (11/16-18/18) – A Tale of Two Teams is the story of the two Ramapo teams that played in Warminster, PA at the Empire Classic Tournament. For a team that was ranked second in the Atlantic Region prior to the tournament, it appeared they decided to rest on their laurels. They only showed up for the first period of the Fairfield game and didn’t return to their former self until the second and third periods of the final game against Pittsburgh.
The opening game was against Fairfield, a team the Roadrunners had beaten two weeks earlier, 8-7 in overtime. Both teams were flying in the first period. Ramapo’s size and speed lead to the first score of the game. Bobby spetz scored on passes from Keith Doherty and Kyle DeBel at 3:06. However, the Roadrunners lead was short lived. 2 minutes later, the Stags knotted the score at 1. Sean Gordon was sharp in goal stopping 14 of Fairfield’s 15 shots. Ramapo had 9 shots on goal. The second period started with Fairfield taking total control of the game. They scored 4 unanswered goals and outshot the Roadrunners 17-7. Although the Stags scored only one goal in the third period, they again outshot the Roadrunners, this time 12-5. Total shots on goal were 44-22 in favor of Fairfield. A good, fast Fairfield team took advantage of a Ramapo team that just stopped playing after the first period. This certainly wasn’t the Ramapo team that dominated opponents the first half of the season.
The Blue Hens of Delaware was Ramapo’s next opponent on Saturday afternoon. As the game started, it appeared Ramapo was getting back on track after the demoralizing loss to Fairfield the night before. Even though Ramapo outshot Delaware 15-3 in the first period, they could manage only one goal. Kyle DeBel scored at 10:11 on an assist by Thomas Stapleton. Ramapo took a 2-0 lead when Bobby Mulligan scored on a power play at 2:57 of the second period. However, that was all the only scoring the Roadrunners could muster in the period. A devastating blow came with just 29 seconds remaining in the in the middle frame. Sloppy play in front of the Ramapo net resulted in a Delaware goal that cut the lead to 2-1 going into the locker room. That kind of a goal at the end of a period could devastate a team. But Ramapo came out flying in the third and dominated play. However, Delaware’s goalie was outstanding in net stopping all 23 Roadrunners shots. Shots on goal without scoring doesn’t get you a win. Once again, loose play in the defensive zone resulted in the tying goal being scored at 16:44. Regulation time would end tied at 2. The goalies exchanged sides of the ice for the start of a 5 minute, 3-on-3 sudden-death overtime period. After the five-minutes elapsed, neither team scored to end the game. Ramapo outshot Delaware 7-4 in the extra frame. ACHA Division III does not have a shootout after overtime. However, the two teams conducted an unofficial shootout. Ramapo prevailed in the 8th round when Chris Dressler scored his third goal of the shootout. Ramapo outplayed and outshot Delaware 53-29 but could only come away with a tie. It was a hot Delaware goalie that kept the game from being a Ramapo rout. Matt Ajello was exceptional in the Ramapo net, especially in the shootout. Ramapo had hope to be 2 and 0 at this point of the tournament, However, all they had to show was a loss and a tie. The final game of the tournament was Sunday evening against College Hockey East opponent, the University of Pittsburgh-Johnstown.
Ramapo played the final game of the tournament on Sunday night against the Mount Cats of Pitt-Johnstown. The first period was Ramapo’s worst nightmare. A lifeless Roadrunners gave up 3 goals. The worst start of a game all season. The first Pitt goal was on a power play just 1:39 into the game. Down 3-0 after one period, posed the question, where was the Roadrunners of the first half of the season hiding? However, whether it was pride, or embarrassment, the sleeping Roadrunners finally woke up. Keith Doherty put the Roadrunners on the scoreboard at 4:13. Assists to Keith Henning and Kyle DeBel. One minute 19 seconds later, Chris Dress from Zack Toy cut Pitt’s lead to 3-2. Gary Ragusa tied the score at 11:01. Bobby Mulligan was given an assist. Dressler scored his second goal of the period to give Ramapo the lead at 17:33. Mulligan and Keith Henning assisted on the play. The third period saw end-to-end action eaarly, but it was evident that the Mountain Cats were wearing down. With just a little more than 3 minutes remaining in the game, Ramapo added three more goals. Doherty from DeBel and Bobby Spetz at 16:35. Just 1:42 later, Doherty scored again this time from Zack Toy. 17 seconds after the Doherty goal, Mulligan scored a power play goal. Jason Musselman was awarded an assist. The Roadrunners righted the ship with a 7-3 victory scoring 7 unanswered goals. The second and third periods saw the Roadrunners rally to play the quality of hockey that had played earlier in the season.
The weekend certainly had its ups and downs. After putting the first game nightmare behind them, they went into Thanksgiving break 11-3-1. The 1-1-1 tournament left the Roadrunners still in second place in the Atlantic Region. However, this week they weren’t alone. Fairfield had won four games in the tournament and jumped from sixth to second to tie with the Roadrunners. Ramapo takes to the ice on 12/1 in Atlantic City to play sister school Stockton University.