Trinity College's Ryan Pfeffer scored 12:57 into the first sudden-victory overtime period and the nationally ranked No. 7/10 Bantams won 2-1 against the Hamilton College Continentals in a 2019 NESCAC Men's Hockey Championship semifinal at Trinity's Koeppel Center on Saturday evening.
The top-seeded Bantams improve to 18-3-5 overall and move on to Sunday's final against Amherst College. Fourth-seeded Hamilton (13-10-3 overall) was averaging 2.76 goals per game and the Continentals were 5-0-1 in their last six heading into the semifinals.
This was the third time this season that Hamilton and Trinity met on the ice with all three contests heading to overtime. The teams tied 2-2 in Hartford, Connecticut, on Nov. 30 and on Jan. 25 the final score was 3-3 at Hamilton's Russell Sage Rink.
Fourteen seconds after the opening faceoff, Trinity jumped ahead to a 1-0 lead. Nicholas Polsinelli sent a pass up ice to Mark Knowlton and Knowlton rifled a wrist shot toward the net that deflected off the glove of Anthony Tirabassi '20 and into the back of the goal. Tirabassi matched a career high with 52 saves and he averaged more than 48 in the three games against the Bantams this season.
Hamilton had a good chance at the equalizer with 10:47 left in the first. Sterling Bray '20 had a clean look at Trinity's Teddy Loughborough (27 saves), who made an initial stop. Bray got a second shot off the rebound but Loughborough once again shut the door.
A Trinity penalty at the end of the first period handed Hamilton a power play that rolled over into the second, and the Continentals took full advantage of the extra skater. Rory Gagnon '19 fed the puck to Stephen Cochrane '20 at the point. Cochrane blasted a slapper that Jon Stickel '19 tipped into the opposite corner of the goal to tie the score just 44 seconds into the second stanza. Hamilton finished 1-for-3 on the power play and Trinity went 0-for-4.
Threatening in the attacking zone with under a minute to play in the third period, Hamilton was called for a tripping penalty that put the Bantams on the power play. Trinity was not able to come up with the game-winner in regulation but entered overtime with 1:27 left on the man-advantage.
The Bantams sent a handful of shots towards the net at the beginning of overtime but both were blocked by Blayne Oliver '20 as the visitors killed the penalty. Three minutes later, the Bantams nearly won it when Lucas Michaud got a shot off on a rebound after a shot by Taggart Corriveau, but Tirabassi came up clutch with the back-to-back saves. Less than two minutes later, a streaking Jordi Jefferson '22 had a clear shooting lane at the other end and fired a one-timer toward the goal, but Loughborough returned the favor and stoned the attempt. Trinity held a 10-4 shot advantage in the extra period.
Stickel played in his 100th career game and classmate Jason Brochu '19 played in his 103rd.