1976-77 Goliath Falls

For the fourth consecutive season the League changed its name, this time becoming the Metropolitan Collegiate Hockey Conference (MCHC). The Ramapo College administration conferred varsity status on the team in recognition of its previous successes. Former players Chuck Podgurski and Dennis O’Keefe became Assistant Coaches. In addition to the MCHC schedule, the team would face major college independents: Navy, University of Delaware, Villanova University, and Lehigh University. The Roadrunners opened the season once again as defending champions. Although the Joss to CCNY in the previous year’s quarter-finals of the playoffs snapped the Roadrunners thirty-three game unbeaten streak, the regular season unbeaten streak was still alive at twenty-nine (1974-75: 1, 1975-76: 28). This year, however, Ramapo had a very young and inexperienced team. There were nine freshmen and only six players returning from the previous year’s “Super Team.”

The League comprised two divisions: Varsity and Club. Ramapo played in the ten-team Varsity Division which included Iona, Nassau Community College (NCC), Rockland Community College (RCC), Brooklyn, Lehman, Queens, CCM, John Jay and CCNY. Although Club and Varsity did not meet in League competition, Ramapo did schedule FDU twice from the Club Division to continue their cross-county rivalry.

The Ramapo offense started where they had left off the previous year, thrashing John Jay 11-2. After a 4-4 tie with Iona, the Roadrunners kept rolling on, defeating CCNY, 8-2 and Brooklyn, 9-4. At 3-0-1 Ramapo had scored thirty-two goals (8.0) and extended their regular season unbeaten streak to thirty-three games. Confidence was high and the team’s opportunity to repeat for a third consecutive League championship was looking very good. However, the unbeaten streak ended on November 25, 1976 with a 4-3 loss to RCC.

The loss was the first of four. Next was a 7-4 decision to Iona followed by a 5-4 loss to Club Division Wagner to even the record at 3-3-1. A 14-1 demolishing of CCNY got the team back on its winning way. The Roadrunners outshot the Beavers, 54-9. Subsequent games balanced wins and losses: a hard­ fought 3-2 victory over Lehman; an 8-0 white-washing of CCM; a 7-4 loss to Club Division arch rival FDU; an 8-1 rout of Fordham; 9-6 and 9-3 victories over NCC and Lehman; an 8-5 loss to NCC; and an 8-1drubbing of CCM.

In game ten, the Roadrunners faced John Jay College. In the second period, a cheap blindside hit from a John Jay player injured and sidelined Ramapo’s leading scorer Phil Lucca. Outraged Ramapo players wanted to start a brawl, but Coach Chill suggested another form of revenge. After Lucca was helped off the ice, Chill and several players returned to the Ramapo bench. As they passed the John Jay bench, Chill spoke quietly and without breaking stride. Pointing at John Jay’s coach, Chill said five words: “We’re going to bury you.” Ramapo players rose to the occasion, routing John Jay 19-1.

In their next match-ups, the Roadrunners edged FDU 5-4 and defeated RCC 7-3. Revenge was sweet, for it was RCC that had ended the thirty-three game regular season unbeaten streak earlier in the season.

On January 24, 1977, Ramapo played its first Annual Alumni Ice Hockey Game. The old-timers topped the Varsity team 4-1. This game established a tradition that would continue long after the disbanding of the program in 1984.

The regular season ended on a low note with the team losing four of its last eight games. A 6-4 defeat by Brooklyn killed Ramapo’s chances of “three-peating” as Division Champs. The Roadrunners rebounded to defeat Queens 6-4, but then lost to Villanova. Ramapo’s final Division game was a 9-6 win over Queens. Independent games that followed included a 6-3 win over Rutgers, a tough 5-4 loss to Delaware, a 6-5 defeat of the Naval Academy and a 4-3 loss to Lehigh. The Roadrunners finished second in the Varsity Division (13-4-1) six points behind top-spot Iona College. Ramapo entered the double elimination playoffs in quest of its third consecutive League championship. The Roadrunners opened the playoffs against the NCC. The Lions whitewashed a totally unprepared Roadrunner team 7-0. This was the first time in the team’s five-year history (129 games) that a Ramapo ice hockey team was shut out.

Ramapo’s next opponent was RCC. In the regular season the teams had split two games. This time, the Roadrunners eliminated the Hawks 4-3 to stay alive. Then, they had to face NCC, the team that had humiliated them in the opening game. Each team had one loss and faced elimination. Ramapo advanced to the final round of the playoffs by overcoming a 3-0 deficit in the first six minutes of the game to defeat the Lions 8-5. In order to repeat as champion, Ramapo would have to win both of two games against the Gaels of Iona College, who hadn’t yet lost a playoff game in the current season. The Roadrunners trailed the Gaels by only 3-2 after two periods. However, a more experienced Iona squad scored four unanswered goals in the third period to win 7-4, ending Ramapo’s bid for a third consecutive championship. For a young team, of which little was expected, Ramapo finished with a very respectable 19-11-1 record.

Post-season awards went to five Ramapo players: Harry Maynes was selected to the MCHC First All­ Star Team; Russ Tricoli, Mike Barnfield , and Jim Egan were selected to the MCHC Second All-Star Team; Ed Chapel was chosen ECAC Division III “Scholar Athlete.”