For only a second-year program, the Ramapo College ice hockey team has proven that they can run with the best simply by being the best.
The team made history this past Saturday when they beat Suffolk University in the MCHC Championship game 4-3 in overtime.
The team won consecutive championships in 1975 and 1976, but the program stopped receiving funding after 1984, making it 41 years since they last saw a championship win – until this 2016-2017 season.
With an overall season record of 26-1-0, it would be impossible to tell that the Roadrunners’ program took a 31-year hiatus simply by looking at their statistics.
The first period left much to be determined. Ramapo came onto the ice hungry and looking for a win, but both teams had brought their A game. Nine and a half minutes into the period, Keith Doherty took a shot on the Sharks during a power play. It was blocked by the goalie but then immediately rebounded by Dan Demarco for the Roadrunners’ first goal, assisted by Keith Henning and Kyle DeBel. However, Suffolk went on to score one of their own to tie it up at almost 17 minutes of play.
In the second period, Ramapo was unable to score again while Suffolk took the lead at 15:40, and slotted another past goalie Keith Gay less than one minute later.
At 8:23 of the third period, Ramapo finally answered back when Henning took a shot, which soared past the Suffolk goalie to cut the Sharks’ lead to 3-2. Suffolk’s plan of attack was to sit on their lead, however, the Roadrunners proved relentless with the pressure in the offensive zone. A power play put Ramapo right where they wanted to be when Suffolk was awarded a tripping penalty with 2:55 left in regulation play. Demarco’s shot was stopped, but Bobby Spetz swept in for the rebound (in a nearly identical fashion to how the Roadrunners scored their first goal), to again tie the game 3-3. The period ended with fans on the edge of their seats as Ramapo received a penalty of their own, but Gay successfully blocked it.
The tied score sent the two teams into a sudden death period consisting of 20 minutes of intense, 4-on-4 action; a spot that Suffolk had been in the night before when they defeated Fordham in overtime, 7-6.
Ramapo was still suffering with Henning in the penalty box, leaving them one player down. Coincidentally, once Henning was back on the ice Suffolk endured a penalty of their own, thus putting Ramapo at an advantage with a 4-on-3 offensive. Demarco won the face-off for Ramapo and the puck was passed to Doherty, Henning and then DeBel for a perfectly executed power play goal.
Senior Marc Concato was ecstatic coming away with a championship win for his last season.
“From the start, our goal was to become league champs. We worked hard in practice; our coaches really pushed us to get better every time we touched the ice. We became brothers during the season and weren’t going to stop short of reaching our goal. Being my last season of competitive hockey, it was a great one, and I am so proud of my team and what we accomplished," Concato said.