Today: Feb 21, 2024

Ice Owls finish season 23-3; fall at Nationals

PETE PAGUAGA Sports Editor

Throughout a season where it seemed as if the Ice Owls were unstoppable, the Iowa State Cyclones were able to not only stop the Ice Owls but also eliminate them from moving on in the national tournament.

“I thought we controlled the play for most of the Iowa State game, holding a 45-22 shot advantage by the end of the game, but unfortunately we ran into an extremely talented goaltender on the Iowa State team,” said captain Joe Innamorato. “We had a lot of great chances and were never down in the game until they scored in overtime.”

Nationals featured 16 teams from across the United States split into four different pools. The pools would then play a round robin, which means they played each other once, and the top team in each pool at the end of the round robin would move on to the semifinals.

The Ice Owls were in pool D, having to the play against Loyola University, Iowa State and Saginaw Valley.

The first game against Loyola was what many sports fan call an instant classic. The Ice Owls came out flying in the first period. Steve Rosenkrantz scoring the only goal and they outshot Loyola 16-4.

The second period was a completely different story; Loyola outplayed the Ice Owls. Even though the Ice Owls again outshot the Greyhounds, Loyola scored four goals. With the Greyhounds leading 4-1 at the end of the second period, the Ice Owls needed a miracle.

“Everybody needed to keep calm after the second period. They were very defensively sound and we have never gone into a third period with only one goal on the board all season. We knew if we kept getting pucks at the net and attacking, they would eventually go in. We spoke in the locker room prior to the third and people were filled with emotions, especially Anthony Dercole,” said Rosenkrantz. “That definitely gave an energy boost because nobody wanted to give up and we knew that we were talented enough to easily get three or four goals in five minutes just as we did against Farmingdale in the Conference Championship.”

That is exactly what the Ice Owls did, as Mike Penna scored a little under six minutes into the final period. After getting the first goal of the period, the Ice Owls used the momentum as Rosenkrantz scored his second goal of the game, with under four minutes left to play. With less than one minute to play the Ice Owls, pulled goaltender Mike Federico for an extra attacker and that’s when Rosenkrantz came through again, scoring with 31 seconds left in the game to tie the score, 4-4.

In overtime it was again Rosenkrantz. Only one minute into the extra frame he netted the game winner for the Ice Owls.

“I know it sounds cliché and simple, but honestly, we needed to truly believe that we could and would come back and win that game. So I think putting that confidence in players’ heads helped a lot of guys play well in the third,” said Innamorato.

“Dercole stepped up and said a few things as well, which I think inspired a lot of players, as Dercole is normally more of a silent leader. So when we heard him talking, it helped a lot of us more fully understand just how important this next period was going to be.”

The next game the Ice Owls were on the other side, losing the lead late and then falling in overtime as the Ice Owls lost 4-3 to Iowa State.

“Definitely not tired. We were flying on all cylinders that night against Iowa State, except our power play was not getting the job done. With a 2-0 lead early in the third, we got a little comfortable and let off the gas which may have affected us but the OT game the night before was just motivation,” said Rosenkrantz.

With the loss to Iowa State, the Ice Owls were eliminated from advancing because Iowa State went to 2-0 and the Ice Owls went to 1-1. Even if the Ice Owls won their last game and Iowa State lost, the Cyclones would own the tiebreaker.

Even though they lost, the Ice Owls really enjoyed the experience of going to Nationals and will use what they learned this year and bring it into next year.

“The nationals experience was very surreal. You had people being interviewed throughout the pool play matchups, as well as MVPs handed out after every game. All games were broadcast live on the internet with play-by-play, which was very cool, especially when we heard that a lot of people back home were supporting us by hooking the broadcast up to their TVs and watching us play,” said Innamorato.

“In addition, the games were all fantastic, a lot of close finishes, and most teams stuck around to watch all the games in pool play, so the crowds were bigger as a result. This season was definitely a success, as we accomplished a lot en route to winning our second league championship in as many years. At the same time, all the guys would tell you that as much success as we had this season, it was still somewhat of a disappointment because we fell short of our ultimate goal, winning the national championship.”

Next season the Ice Owls will bring back most of their roster, with the exception of Dercole, Tom Roche, Mike Diglio and Jesse Gillis. Rosenkrantz said he is very excited to see how good the team could be next season.

“We have other key guys returning such as Joe Barnes, Nik Bakos, Kyle Amarone and Innamorato,” said Rosenkrantz. “The sky is the limit for this team next season; it’s all about learning from your mistakes and correcting them, and we are going to have a serious title contending team next season, possibly better than this years.”

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