GATES MILLS, OH. — The No. 4 John Carroll Blue Streaks defeated the No. 2 IUP Crimson Hawks, 4-3, Saturday at Gilmour Academy Ice Arena. Sean Deakin scored the game-winning goal with just 28 seconds remaining in the third period.
It was a game fit for the playoffs and fit for these two clubs. If the last game between these two was any indication, Saturday’s playoff contest was going to be close one. And close it was. After nearly 13 minutes of back-and-forth scoreless action, Jordan Adams took a dive from the top of the crease, throwing a shot as he fell, and gave the Hawks the 1-0 lead. John Carroll was not going to be denied, though. The Blue Streaks took advantage of a Justin Shepherd tripping minor and Max Wopperer buried a power play goal to tie the game with just over a minute and a half remaining in the first period.
John Carroll scored two straight early in the second period from Brian Russell and Tyler Putnam to extend their lead to 3-1, but Mackenzie Schopfer trimmed the Blue Streak lead to 3-2 a few minutes later. It was all they could muster in the middle frame.
After nearly 12 minutes of the third gone, Jamie Mauro finally notched the tying goal for the Hawks, slipping a puck past John Carroll goaltender Martin Moine. It looked like the game was going to overtime, just as it had back on Jan. 29. But Deakin had other ideas. With less than 30 seconds left to play, Deakin took a puck dumped in by his teammate behind the net and buried it past Jared Stahel for the go-ahead goal.
“We just said we had to get pucks out of the zone,” said Deakin after the game. “As long as we can get pucks out the zone we can make chances and that’s ultimately what happened.”
Head coach Scott Shantery was happy for the win, but stressed the importance of unfinished business.
“We’re really excited to play them [Pitt] again. Another team that beat us twice during the year but they were two really good games. I think we’re hungry,” said Shantery.
John Carroll has won the conference tournament three times, the last two in 2017 and 2018 when the Blue Streaks defeated Pitt each time. Those wins, though, didn’t get them a bid to the ACHA National Tournament. Those bids went to Pitt as the regular-season champion. This year, the playoff champion receives the CHMA conference’s automatic bid.
Stahel ended the night saving 26 out of 30 shots. Moine saved 31 out of 34 shots for the win.
John Carroll will go on to play Pitt for the conference championship Sunday at 1:30 p.m. at Gilmour Academy Ice Arena.
MAJOR FOCUS: JOHN CARROLL ADVANCES, WILL FACE PITT FOR CHMA CHAMPIONSHIP