MIH: Wilkes can’t overcome crucial call in loss to Elmira


Kirsten Peters

Forward Nick Fea led the Colonels offense with a goal and an assist at Elmira on Saturday. He curently leads the conference in assists with 20.

A crucial call at the end of the second period took United Collegiate Hockey Conference’s (UCHC) leading scorer, Donald Flynn, out of the game, and it proved to be too much for Wilkes to bounce back from as they lost to Elmira, 3-2.

The call was a five-minute major for interference on Flynn. Connor Powell skated the puck out of his own zone for the Soaring Eagles and as he crossed the blue line, Flynn came across with a big hit, knocking Powell down and drawing the attention from the officials.

The penalty was explained by the officials as a “blind-side” hit, a term not normally associated with hockey.

According to the NCAA 2018-2019 ice hockey rulebook, an interference may be called if “a Team A player violently checks an opponent from the blindside.”

The Colonels and coach Tyler Hynes pled their case against the call, but they didn’t have any luck, and they were down their top scorer for the final 21 minutes of the game.

Hynes opted to not comment on the official’s call.

As a whole, Wilkes played a very good hockey game. They outshot Elmira 38-32 and looked very comfortable on both ends of the ice.

Goaltender Michael Patterson-Jones made 29 saves, including one that could be nominated for save of the year.

On their first power play, just over halfway through the first period, the Soaring Eagles set-up Matthew Cuce, their top goal scorer, on a back-door play. He had a wide-open net to shoot at and after he took the shot he started celebrating. Patterson-Jones kicked his left leg out though, denying Cuce and surprising the entire arena.

“He played awesome tonight. He was composed and calm in a chaotic, intense and aggressive environment,” Hynes said. “He did a great job of keeping his cool and playing his game in the midst of all of the chaos.”

Patterson-Jones finished the weekend with good performances in two games including Friday’s win against Lebanon Valley.

“It’s nothing new for him. He’s been doing this all year,” Hynes said. “He has done it since he stepped in the last time we played there. He got them at that time and they got us this time.”

Wilkes started the goal-scoring almost four minutes into the first period. Nick Fea and Flynn carried the puck into Elmira’s defensive zone on a 2-on-2 rush. Fea skated towards the right wing, spreading the defensemen, creating a lane for Flynn to skate past them. He sent a perfect pass to Flynn and he buried it, giving the Colonels a 1-0 lead.

The Soaring Eagles tied the game up after a couple of miscues by Wilkes. Tyler Barrow tool a high sticking penalty with less than a minute and a half left in the period. Joey Pasquini took a cross-checking penalty behind the play shortly after, giving one of the best power plays in the country a 5-on-3.

Cuce capitalized on this power play opportunity, taking the puck into the high slot and ripping a shot to the top left corner.

Elmira scored the next goal as well, but this time it was the fourth line doing the damage. Marty Kapoian sent the puck back to the point to Spencer Carter. Carter kept the line moving with a pass to Harry Kramer, who then sent a wrist shot towards goal. The puck bounced off Patterson-Jones’ shoulder and into the net.

The rest of the period was stagnant until Flynn took his penalty.

Wilkes needed to kill five minutes of a continuous power play, and they succeeded until the final seconds. Devon Schell, one of the penalty killers, attempted to steal the puck at the blue line and missed, creating passing lanes for the Soaring Eagles. Nick Ford and Powell found Anthony Parrucci in front of the net.

Our penalty kill was awesome tonight,” Hynes said. “To go toe-to-toe with one of the best power plays in the country says a lot.”

After the penalty expired, Hynes needed to find a way to work with a short bench and mix his lines up without Flynn.

“It was definitely a unique challenge, but it is not rocket science trying to figure out the lines,” Hynes said. “We have guys that are bought in and going. You can put any number in any spot and that’s a good feeling to have.”

Billy Berry jumped onto the top line and power play in the absence of Flynn for the third period. Berry made the most of his opportunity, picking up the primary assist on the Colonels second goal.

Tyler Barrow carried the puck into the zone. He passed it to Berry, who split the defense and delivered a pass to Fea, who found the back of the net for his second point of the game.

Needing one more goal to tie the game, Wilkes pushed for the equalizer. The comeback attempt took a huge blow with two minutes left, as Tyson Araujo picked up a tripping penalty.

The Colonels fought to tie the game while playing down a man, including pulling Patterson-Jones for the extra skater.

Elmira took the puck in the neutral zone and shot at the empty net, attempting to finish the game off.

Phil Erickson raced towards the net to block the shot, which he did, and the puck went out of play.

The Colonels tried but failed to get a good shot on goal, and the. Soaring Eagles held on for the victory.

“I am extremely proud of their performance today,” Hynes said. “This is the best feeling I have had after a loss in a long time. I’m proud of the group and to battle against a team with depth that they have was very good for us.”