1974-75 The First Championship

The New Jersey Intercollegiate Hockey League changed its name to the Bi-State Intercollegiate Hockey League (BSIHL) f or the 1974-75 campaign. The League dropped Brookdale and Livingston from the previous year but added six new members: John Jay College, Cook College, Lehman College, the County College of Morris (CCM), Manhattan College, and St. Francis College (NY). Newark College of Engineering (NCE) changed its name to the New Jersey Institute of Technology (NJIT). The League now comprised twelve teams. As a result, there were two divisions. Ramapo was placed in the Northern Division along with FDU, CCM, Lehman, Manhattan, and William Paterson. Wagner, St. Francis, John Jay, Upsala, Cook, and NJIT comprised the Southern Division. Head Coach Jim Barrow continued on as League President. Graduating goalie Art Chill was appointed Assistant Coach. The team’s successes in the previous two years had enabled Jim Barrow to represent a winning program to new recruits, including his top prospect, Harry Maynes from Emerson High School in Union City, New Jersey. With two winning seasons under their belt, nine players returning, and a number of talented new players joining the team, the Roadrunners looked forward to an exciting and productive season.

The season’s opener was in Brooklyn against St. Francis. The Roadrunners took a 3-2 lead into the final minute of play, but St. Francis pulled their goalie for a sixth attacker and tied the score with just twenty-three seconds left to play.

Ramapo next met arch-rival Fairleigh Dickinson and dropped a 5-3 decision. The game was marred with thirty-one penalties. FDU’s final goal was scored by Russ Tricoli, who would transfer to Ramapo the following year.

The Roadrunners entered the winner’s circle for the first time in the season with a 6-4 victory over Lehman. The 1-1-1, Roadrunners next traveled to play undefeated Wagner, the leader of the Southern Division. The feisty Roadrunners scored their first big victory of the young season by upsetting Wagner 6-4, and ending the Sea Hawks undefeated streak at 7.

After an independent game loss to Rutgers, 8-3, the .500 (2-2-1) Roadrunners started a six-game winning streak. The streak started with a»13-3 rout of State College rival WPC. Ramapo next defeated Manhattan 4-1 but had to settle for a 1-0 forfeit win against Cook College when Cook failed to field a team.

The Roadrunners extended their winning streak to five, crushing John Jay, 11-2 and NJIT, 11-1. The sixth and final victory in the streak was an 8-2 win over WPC. The streak came to an end at the hands of CCM , as the Titans  easily handled the Roadrunners 7-1. At 8-3-1, Ramapo held second place in the Northern Division.

Ramapo improved its record with three consecutive wins. The first was an 8-2 victory over Lehman. Then, a hapless NJIT was shutout by goalie AI Morris 12-0. These two wins were followed by Ramapo’s most one-sided victory in the team’s history. They crushed Cook College 22-2 at Peddie School rink, out shooting the Aggies 109-8. The Cook goalie made a record eighty-six saves in the game, without which the score would have been even higher. The Roadrunners scored eight goals in the first, five in the second, and nine in the third. Multiple goal scorers were John Williamson, 4; Bob Squire, 3; Dave Townsend, 3; and Tom Moriarty, 3. This was Tom ‘s first game in the Roadrunner red and gold; he burst onto the scene with three goals and two assists. Having some friends on the Cook team, Todd Siben (future team manag¬er of Roadrunner hockey) dressed for the Aggies, and scored one of the Cook goals. The team was flying high after scoring a total of 34 goals in its last two games and posted 11-3-1 mark. They faced CCM for a second time seeking revenge but the Titans beat the Roadrunners 4-1 to move just one point behind the Roadrunners for second place in the Northern Division. Ramapo needed to make their move if they had any chance of gaining first place. Right on cue, the Roadrunners put together a four-game winning streak. They started with a 3-2 win over St. Francis, followed by a 5-4 win over Manhattan. Upsala fell by a score of 10-3 and Southern Division Wagner lost for a second time that season to the Roadrunners, 5-4.

Rutgers, in first place in the Middle Atlantic Conference, ended Ramapo’s four-game winning streak. They dominated the Roadrunners with an easy 7-2 victory. The Roadrunners were now 15-5-1 over­all and 15-3-1 in the BSIHL. More importantly, Ramapo was just one point behind Fairleigh. The winner would take over sole possession of first place in the division and would probably win the regular season title.

For the game against Fairleigh, the stands at Sport-0-Rama, Ramapo’s home rink in Monsey, N.Y., were filled to the rafters. The thrills and excitement would not leave the fans disappointed. It took Ramapo just forty-two seconds to get on the scoreboard. Maynes took a feed from O’Keefe and scored on a breakaway. After one period, Ramapo held a slim 1-0 lead. Fairleigh started the second period fast and furious. They dominated play and knotted the score at 1-1. Frustrated, they took senseless penalty after senseless penalty. The potent Fairleigh power play scored two goals within a thirty-seven second span of time to take a 3-1 lead. Ramapo rose to the challenge. Art Mueller scored on a power play to cut the Fairleigh lead to 3-2. Early in the third period, Moriarty evened the score at three. With 8:12 left in the game, O’Keefe scored following a pile-up in front of the Fairleigh net, giving Ramapo a 4-3 lead. At 4:08 Maynes scored the goal that gave the Roadrunners a 5-3 lead. This scoring combination of Moriarty, O’Keefe, and Maynes was one of the first signs of the greatness that would become “The Irish Connection.” Fairleigh cut the lead to one with just 1:03 left in the game. The Knights won the faceoff and pulled their goalie in the final minute but Dave Townsend scored the empty-net goal to give the Roadrunners a 6-4 win and sole possession of first place in the Northern Division of the BSIHL.

Ramapo needed a win against John Jay to clinch the division title. The 16-3-1 Roadrunners had trounced John Jay (6-13-0) 11-2 earlier in the season and were heavy favorites to defeat the Bloodhounds to capture the title. In spite of their advantages, the Roadrunners came out flat. Lackluster plays coupled with experimental line combinations cost the Roadrunners the title. Ramapo’s chance at the Northern Division title ended with a 5-3 loss to John Jay.

Fairleigh won its next game and Ramapo was once again one point behind FDU. Ramapo’s final game was against Upsala, while Fairleigh’s finale was against St. Francis. Upsala was not able to field a team so the Roadrunners won by forfeit to take the lead in the race for the division title. It was all up to St. Francis. A Terrier win would give Ramapo the title. But as fate would have it, FDU rose to the occasion and crushed St. Francis 9-2 to win the Northern Division title by a single point. Ramapo had to settle for second just two points ahead of CCM. The shocking loss to John Jay taught Ramapo humility as they entered the League playoffs.

The Roadrunners reached the playoffs for the second time in as many years. FDU, the Northern Division winner, and Wagner, the Southern Division winner, drew a first-round bye. Ramapo would face John Jay (third place finisher in the Southern Division) in one quarter-final series while St. Francis (second place finisher in the Southern Division) faced CCM (third place finisher in the Northern Division) in the other quarter-final series.

Revenge was sweet in the quarter final round as Ramapo eliminated John Jay two games to none and advanced to the semi-finals against Wagner. In the opening game, Ramapo won big -10-2 -and then ended John Jay ‘s season with a 9-5 Roadrunner victory. CCM eliminated St. Francis also two games to none to advance to the other semi-final round against FDU.

In what was to prove to be the most exciting series ever played by the Roadrunners, Ramapo opened against Wagner in the best-of-three series at Wagner’s home rink in Elizabeth, N.J. In typical playoff fashion, close checking, cautious hockey was the style of play.

Wagner scored a goal in the first and another in the second to take a 2-0 lead into the final period. Ramapo battled back in the third to tie the score at two. “Beefy” O’Keefe’s goal with 6:22 remaining gave Ramapo the lead. But with just 1:51 left in regulation time, the Sea Hawks scored to send the game into sudden death overtime. A confident Wagner team applied constant pressure on the Ramapo goal in the extra session and came away with the win at 5:16 of overtime.

Things were different at home the following day. A partisan Ramapo crowd cheered on their beloved Roadrunners to even the series. The team responded with a 9-4 trouncing of the Sea Hawks. The rubber game would shift back to Wagner’s home rink in Elizabeth. The winner would move on to the finals against CCM. CCM had just eliminated FDU two games to none to ensure their first post-season finals.

Ironically, because ice time was at a premium, the game with so much riding on it didn’t start until eleven p.m. The two teams exchanged goals for two periods. The score was tied at two after one and at three after two. All three of Ramapo’s goals were scored by freshman phenom Harry Maynes. Wagner dominated the third period.

Facing elimination near the end of the third period, Ramapo staged one of the most remarkable comebacks in the team’s history. Wagner led 5-3 with three minutes remaining in regulation time when O’Keefe closed the gap to 5-4. With just forty-two seconds remaining in the season, Tommy Suarez fired home the equalizer. Suarez’s goal knotted the score at five to send the game into sudden death overtime -the second sudden death overtime in three games. Somewhere around two a.m., center Harry Maynes scored his fourth goal of the game at 4:17 of overtime to advance the Roadrunners to the finals for the first time. Goalie AI Morris came up big in overtime to shut down the Sea Hawks. Morris turned away forty-seven Wagner shots.

Ramapo’s opponents in the best-of-three League championship series were the Titans of the CCM. The big question was how much physical and emotional strength would Ramapo have left following the grueling series with Wagner? They would need it all to defeat CCM, a team that had defeated them easily in the regular season, 7-1 and 4-1.

Game one was played at Ramapo’s home ice in Monsey, N.Y. Ramapo came into the finals as underdogs, a role they seemed to enjoy. Throughout the season, the Roadrunners proved to be the spoiler in important games. With the hometown crowd screaming and yelling, the Roadrunners rolled past the Titans 9-3 in game one. A win in Morristown at CCM’s home rink would win the championship for the Roadrunners. A loss would send the final game back to Monsey. ·Ramapo had no intention of playing a game three. It was time to prove that Ramapo could beat CCM at their home rink. The Titans were 11-0-1 at Mennen Arena – but that was the past, and this was a new season. Ramapo did not give CCM a chance. They took control of the game from the opening faceoff. O’Keefe scored on a rebound off a shot by Harry Maynes with just thirty-eight seconds gone in the game to give the Roadrunners a 1-0 lead. The goal was even sweeter for O’Keefe because he had played for CCM the previous year. Upon graduation from the two-year school, he transferred to Ramapo. Close forechecking and backchecking shut down the potent Titan offense. O’Keefe and Maynes set up Moriarty’s goal with just ten seconds left in the opening period to give the Roadrunners a 2-0 lead. A demoralized CCM never recovered. Second period goals by Moriarty and Williamson gave the Roadrunners a commanding 4-0 lead. Harry Maynes closed out the scoring with the final goal of the season.

Ramapo had out-played CMM at every facet of the game. Goalie AI Morris recorded his second shutout of the season and the first in the playoffs. The Irish Connection checked for thirty-two goals in just seven playoff games. Although led by the league’s leading scorer, Ed Higdon with fifty-two goals, the Titan offense mustered only sixteen goals. The underdog Roadrunners’ 5-0 whitewashing of CCM gave Ramapo College its first championship.

In recognition of their outstanding play, forwards Harry Maynes, Tommy Moriarty, and Dennis O’Keefe, defenseman Andy Wyzomerski, and goalie AI Morris were selected to the BSIHL Northern Division All-Star Team. In the North versus South All-Star game, Maynes scored two goals and Moriarty scored one in a 7-3 North victory. Long before these players were officially honored, Coaches Chill and Barlow had noticed some­ thing special about the offensive combination of Maynes, O’Keefe, and Moriarty. “The Irish Connection” as they came to be known, had played together for twelve games- nine of them wins. The trio had one more season to play together before Moriarty and O’Keefe graduated. Ramapo College’s founding President, George T. Potter and his wife, Laurie joined Head Coach Jim Barrow, Assistant Coach Art Chill, and team leader Harry Maynes at the League’s awards ceremony at Wagner College. President Potter accepted the League’s championship trophy on behalf of the College. That was a fitting culmination to a magical season.