1978-79 Welcome to the ECAC

With the first year of ECAC competition under their belt and more depth on this squad than in the previous year, the Roadrunners entered the new campaign optimistically. Once again, however, the team had a formidable schedule and a change in coaching staff: Chuck Podgurski stepped down as assistant coach, and Frank Horan, a coach from Rockland Country, N.Y., replaced him. In addition to RIT, Lehigh, Villanova, Princeton Varsity Club, Delaware, Navy, Trinity, Fairfield, Iona, and Wagner, the schedule included Army JV, Hobart College, and St. Francis College of Maine. The ECAC Division III expanded to twenty-four teams.

Ramapo started on a strong note defeating Hobart 6-1. After a 7-0 rout by Fairfield, the Roadrunners beat St. Francis of Maine 3-2, then old local rival Wagner, 4-3. Ramapo then traveled up to Rochester, New York to play in the RIT Invitational Tournament. The Roadrunners lost to host RIT
8-5 in the opening game, but defeated Lehigh 5-1 in the consolation game. But the nature of a tough schedule would take its toll. Without a breather in sight, the 4-2-0, Roadrunners would drop four of their next six games. In back-to-back games with Lehigh, Ramapo lost a tough close-checking 2-1 decision. After defeating Villanova 6-4, the Roadrunners were blown away by the Princeton-Varsity Club 9-0. On the other hand, in a real scoring fest, Ramapo outlasted Delaware 9-6. Consecutive losses to ECAC opponents Trinity 7-2 and Fairfield 9-6 left Ramapo at 6-6-0 (2-5-0 in ECAC competition) at the midway point.

Ramapo began the second half of the season with a return to the Naval Academy to play in the second annual Crab Pot Tournament. The Roadrunners were eager to avenge their previous loss to Navy. Ramapo drew Delaware in the opening round while Navy played St. John’s University. As expected, the game with Delaware was grueling and physical. It ended in a 7-7 tie in regulation time. Defenseman Glenn Worman scored the winning goal at 6:22 of sudden death overtime to advance Ramapo to the championship game against Navy, who had easily defeated St. John’s 7-1.

In the title game, Ramapo jumped off to a quick two-goal lead against Navy. Goalie Mitch Barnfield stopped Navy freshman forward John Knight on apenalty shot to preserve the 2-0 lead. However, a relentless Middie squad knotted the score at 2-2 at the end of the first period. In the second period, Navy jumped off to a fast two-goal lead. Russ Tricoli scored to bring the Roadrunners within one as the second period ended. In the third period, Ramapo scored three goals within six minutes to take a 6-4 lead. Navy stormed back to score its fifth goal on a power play to reduce the Roadrunner lead to 6-5. With one minute remaining in regulation time, Navy pulled their goalie for a sixth attacker. With just two seconds remaining, John Knight tallied his fourth goal of the game on a deflection to send the game in sudden death overtime. The crowd at Dahlgren Hall Rink was stunned and silenced at 7:10 of overtime when Mike Barnfield scored on a rebound off a shot by Russ Tricoli. Ramapo skated off with the coveted Crab Pot trophy. Ramapo defenseman Frank McKevitt was named MVP of the Tournament.

The winning of the Crab Pot was an important milestone for the College. An account of the championship game and a picture appeared in the Washington Post. Ramapo President George Potter forwarded a personal note to every player and staff member of the team in recognition of the achievement.

At 8-6-0 and coming off the Crab Pot Tournament win, the team appeared to be on its way. Morale and confidence were at an all-time high. However, the team quickly returned to reality when Iona easily defeated the Roadrunners 8-3. After a 6-4 victory over New Jersey State College rival Kean, Ramapo suffered a defeat that ultimately cost them a winning season. In Bethlehem, Pa. against Lehigh, the Roadrunners blew a late third-period lead to send the game into overtime. Lehigh applied early pressure and won the game10-9 at just 1:00 into overtime. The game had 122 shots on goal by both teams. Iona completed the season’s sweep with a 6-3 win over the Roadrunners.

Once again the Roadrunners were at .500 (9-9-0). After a 6-5 victory against Quinnipiac, the Roadrunners played another Service Academy a visit. This time they traveled north to West Point, New York to take on the Army JV squad. In this, their initial meeting with the Cadets, Ramapo beat the Junior Black Knights 4-3 in a very physical battle.

At 11-9-0 with three games remaining, the Roadrunners needed only one win and a tie for a win¬ning season. Unfortunately for Ramapo, they had to face three strong opponents. Trinity and Quinnipiac routed the Roadrunners 10-1 and 11-2 respectively. The final shot at a winning season was against RIT. The Tigers, too, had a lot at stake. A victory against the Roadrunners would give them their first berth in the ECAC Division III playoffs. RIT dominated the game from the start, easily winning 8-2 to advance to the playoffs and send Ramapo to their second consecutive losing season. RIT lost to Trinity in the semi-finals, and Framingham State won the Championship.

Once again, the ECAC proved to be overwhelm¬ing for the Roadrunners. Ramapo could manage only a 3-11-0 record against ECAC opponents (eighteenth in the division). The Roadrunners were 8-1-0 against independents, losing only to Princeton University Varsity Club. Their overall record ended at 11-12-0. The bright note of a disappointing season was defeat¬ing both Army and Navy.