Monday, February 28, 2011

Northern Arizona Ends Men's D-II Hockey's Season at Regionals

LOGAN, Utah (2/25/11) – No. 8 Northern Arizona ended the No. 4 Colorado Buffaloes hockey team’s season with three third period goals and a 4-3 victory in the first round of the ACHA West Regional Tournament on Friday at the George S. Eccles Ice Center.
“Not much you can say when you lose when you’re not supposed to lose,” said CU head coach Ken Fikis. “They played hard, that was the big thing. They played right to very end. I feel bad for the seniors; the nine that played, it was their last game. We outplayed them I thought, we outshot them, but we just couldn’t get the puck into the net.”

The loss ends a three game winning streak for the Buffs as they finish the season with a 16-11-1-2 record. Northern Arizona improves to 17-12-0-4 on the year and will play No. 2 Utah State on Saturday afternoon with a bid to nationals on the line.

Juniors Alex Lencioni and freshman Alex Lewica finished with one goal and one assist each while J.P. Park also scored for Colorado. Seniors Mark Viau and A.J. Koller added assists and senior goaltender Kevin Litinsky made 14 saves on 18 shots.

The game didn’t begin great for CU as Kevin Ingram scored for NAU 23 seconds into the game.

However Colorado rebounded and dominated the rest of the period, outshooting the Ice Jacks 11-7 in the stanza, and finally tied the game with about four minutes left on a rebound goal from Lencioni.

NAU had the chance to retake the lead in the second period after Gregory Park was awarded a penalty shot with 12:42 left in the stanza, but Litinsky denied him with a left pad save to keep it a 1-1 game.

The Buffs took their first lead of the contest with 7:16 left in the second when Lencioni stole the puck in the right NAU corner and threw it front of the net where Lewica fired a one-timer past goalie Quinn Mason. Lewica’s goal was his first of his collegiate career. He finishes the year with four points in his four games with the team.

Colorado thought they had a two goal lead after Conor Williams scored on the power play in the second period, but the officials disallowed it after determining Koller was in the crease.

The Lumberjacks retied the contest with a power play goal from Jon Ellis 41 seconds into the third, but J.P. Park gave the Buffaloes back the lead 2:39 later.

Unfortunately the lead was short lived for CU as Zach Vachris scored 35 after Park to knot the game at three. Gregory Park scored the game winner for the Ice Jacks with 10:47 left in the game.

The Buffaloes had several good scoring opportunities in the final minutes but were unable to score the equalizer as their season now comes to an end.

Friday’s contest was the final time that seniors Viau, Litinsky, Koller, Williams, Andy Neitenbach, Scott Cooley, Scott Seale, Matt Nunley, Andrew Gillis and Matt Ullrich took the ice in a CU uniform.

Colorado now heads into the offseason and will look to return the majority of their team next year. The Buffs will begin their 2011-12 season in late September/early October.

Scoring Summary
First Period
0:23 NAU Kevin Ingram, assisted by Rob Brown and Taylor Dustin
15:52 CU Alex Lencioni, assisted by Alex Lewica and Mark Viau
Second Period
12:44 CU Alex Lewica, assisted by Alex Lencioni
Third Period
0:41 NAU Jon Ellis, assisted by Justin Frechione and Gregory Park – PP
3:20 CU J.P. Park, assisted by A.J. Koller – PP
3:55 NAU Zach Vachris, assisted by Jon Ellis and Kevin Ingram
9:13 NAU Gregory Park, unassisted

NAU – 18
CU – 33

Power Play
NAU: 1-for-3
CU: 1-for-7