The team had to wait until the final weekend of the regular season, but No. 1 Stony Brook Hockey finally avenged its season-ending loss in last year’s ACHA National Championship Game against No. 4 Central Oklahoma on Sunday in Hauppauge.
The Seawolves rallied back from an early deficit to force overtime, but ultimately lost 3-2 in a shootout. Bronchos forward Taylor Herndon sniped the game-winner in the third round, beating senior goaltender Derek Willms to take the victory.
Stony Brook head coach Chris Garofalo’s squad got off to a slow start, as Central Oklahoma scored goals from forward Donald Danroth and defenseman Tyler Minx for a two-score advantage in the opening minutes.
Trailing 2-0 late in the first period, Stony Brook senior forward Tyler Underhill took a neutral-zone pass and deked past a Broncho defender to create a 2-on-1 break toward the opposing goal. From there, Underhill found twine on a left-handed slap shot, bringing the Seawolves within one.
Stony Brook committed three penalties in the second period, but its penalty-killing unit — backstopped by Willms, who had 29 saves in the game — stood tall to keep Central Oklahoma off the board. Then, once the home team had a power play of its own, it took advantage.
Late in the power play, junior J.T. Hall turned the puck over for the Seawolves, giving the Bronchos what seemed to be an easy clearance opportunity to kill the penalty, but forward Landon Robin failed to make the play for the road team. Instead, he committed a costly giveaway to spring Hall toward Central Oklahoma goaltender Alex Henry. Stony Brook’s leading scorer buried the puck in the back of the net, tying the game with 4:10 remaining in the second frame.
As both teams sought a go-ahead goal, the pace grew more frantic late in the contest. After a third period filled with penalties and fights yielded no winner, the game went to overtime. Stony Brook had a 4-on-3 power play opportunity in the extra session, as the Seawolves fired a barrage of perimeter slap shots, but Henry was able to keep the score level and force the shootout, in which Central Oklahoma prevailed.
On Sunday, the Seawolves defeated the Bronchos, winning 5-3 on a third period game-winning goal by junior forward Joe Bochichio.
Hall scored twice, while senior forward Andrew Cetola and Underwood also scored in the victory.
Stony Brook will compete as the top seed in the ESCHL playoffs next weekend at Lehigh Valley College, a tournament the team has won in back-to-back seasons. The ACHA National Championships will be held March 3-8 at Robert Morris University.
Correction: February 18, 2016
A previous version of this article stated that the Club Hockey team will play in the ESCHL playoffs at Lehigh Valley College on Feb. 19 through Feb. 21. The actual location of the tournament is Lebanon Valley College.