MIH: Barrow’s O.T. goal sets up UCHC Semifinals rematch with Stevenson


Kirsten Peters

Tyler Barrow (right) jumps into the air in celebration following his overtime goal, as Devon Schell (left) is the first player to greet him.

WILKES-BARRE, Pa. –– Following a 4-3 overtime victory against Chatham in the regular season finale, Wilkes defeated Nazareth, 3-2, in an overtime thriller during the United Collegiate Hockey Conference Quarterfinals on Wednesday night.

“What an exhilarating game,” said head coach Tyler Hynes. “I will say having played so recently in overtime (against Chatham) like that, you never hope for it, but I do think it benefitted us. I thought we were confident going into it – it wasn’t, ‘Oh no, here we go. We’ve got to play overtime.’ It was a mature effort tonight.”

Tyler Barrow recorded the game-winning goal at 9:16 in overtime, while Scott Mueller picked up the assist on the goal that sent Wilkes to the UCHC Semifinals. Barrow also scored the overtime goal against Chatham on March 27 to help Wilkes lock-up the No. 3 seed just four days prior to the UCHC Tournament.

“When the game gets down to a do or die, the main thing is staying relaxed and not letting yourself get too overly excited,” said Barrow on his ability to perform in the make-it-or-break-it moments.

The former UCHC Rookie of the Year is no stranger to delivering under pressure in the postseason, as Barrow scored the winning goal in the tie-breaking mini-game of last year’s semifinal contest against Stevenson to send Wilkes to the UCHC Championship Series.

“He’s special. You see that kind of fire in him in those overtimes – you just see that he knows that’s his time, and I don’t think that’s something you can coach or teach,” said Hynes. “I think that is a confidence that needs to be earned through previous performance, and he has scored big goals for us before, not just last year in the overtime game against Stevenson – the biggest goal in program history – but just back to last weekend with a huge goal for us in the overtime to make sure this was a home game.”

The victory did not come without a challenge, as 0-10 Nazareth found their way onto the board first with a Matteo Capriotti goal at 6:03 in the first period.

With less than five minutes remaining in the period, Wilkes’ Tyler Dill sent the Colonels to the locker room with the contest tied at one apiece. Nick Fea and Ryan Solomon earned the assists on the goal.

“(Nazareth) most certainly didn’t play like an 0-10 team, and that’s for sure,” said Barrow. “Hats off to them – they came into our rink with a war mentality.”

The second period would breed a heightened sense of intensity following multiple penalties for both teams. Nazareth’s Ray Falso would add insult to injury on a Colonel slashing penalty with a goal at 5:51 on the power play to regain the lead, 2-1.

“In a game like that, those penalties hurt a little bit more,” said Hynes. “I thought tonight we kind of went back to the old us, penalty-wise, and I’m hoping that was just kind of a one game occurrence where now we got it out of us, and we’ll figure it out.

“At the end of the day, we found a way to win. It might not have been pretty, but I am extremely proud of the group, even if we took a couple more penalties than we’ve become accustomed to.”

A spearing penalty and game misconduct by Fea at the end of the second period would open the third with two minutes of four-on-four hockey and a three-minute penalty kill. Jack Lane, a first-year forward, would fill the void in the starting line left by Fea.

“I thought he played very well,” said Hynes of Lane’s performance. “Obviously with (Fea) going out there in the second, I think it was time for somebody to step up. (Fea) is someone who plays a lot of minutes and deserves to play a lot of minutes for us, but that means when he’s out, whoever is going in there is going to have to be ready to play some big minutes themselves, and I thought (Lane) really responded well with a couple of our most skilled players on that top line.”

With 13:12 remaining in the third period and the Colonels on a power play, Dill would score his second tying goal of the contest, proving to be the Achilles heel for Nazareth in regulation. Donald Flynn and Billy Berry assisted on the goal.

“(Dill’s) presence has been massive for us,” said Hynes. “He has been an instant influx of offense. Being on that first line is a lot of pressure, and he hasn’t felt the pressure – he’s only embraced it and then just enhanced his game with his goal-scoring touch and his knack around the net. It just seems like he finds a way to beat goalies, even when his teammates or us might be having trouble.”

Time would expire before either team would see the back of the net again, leaving Wilkes unable to take a lead during regulation and sending the game into a 20-minute, sudden-death overtime where Barrow’s goal would propel Wilkes to the UCHC Semifinals.

“We can look back to the first year of the program where we lost to Nazareth and see now how we excelled as a team and family tonight,” said Barrow.

Colonel goaltender Michael Paterson-Jones recorded 22 saves on 24 shots, providing Wilkes with some timely saves where one wrong bounce could have ended the Colonels’ playoff berth.

“I think last year’s overtime game (against Stevenson) gave us good experience and was a great test of our resilience,” said Paterson-Jones. “We lost game two of the series and had to reset ourselves for the mini-game. It taught us to have a short memory and just focus on the next goal.”

Wilkes and Stevenson fans will be afforded a rematch from last year’s semifinals in tomorrow night’s UCHC Semifinals contest. Stevenson earned the home ice advantage following their 3-2 victory over Neumann today.