This past weekend, the Colonials captured their first ever Admiral's Cup!
On Friday, #3 GW earned a matchup against #6 Duke, a team on the upswing and featuring a lot of great young players. GW came out on fire in the first period, recording 20 shots on Duke and only allowing 5, but Duke's goalie kept GW off the scoreboard until the 5-minute mark when senior forward Luke Yerkovich recorded his first goal of the weekend. The second period saw GW extend their lead early on a short handed goal by senior forward Max Terhar. That was followed up by another GW goal at the halfway point of the period by grad student forward Kevin Zhang, and then with 6 minutes to go Luke Yerkovich got his second tally of the night. Penalty trouble in the second period, something that would be a problem throughout the weekend, got GW discombobulated enough to allow Duke to climb back in with two goals in the last two minutes of the second period, cutting GW's lead to 4-2 going into the third. The third was a much more even period between the teams, with no scoring until the midway point when Duke made it a 1-goal game. However, GW would respond a minute later with a goal by senior forward Nick Ryan. Junior forward Jake Lessick would add on another insurance goal shortly after. Final score GW 6, Duke 3. Senior goalie Dylan Cleary got the win in net with 22 saves.
With all of the higher seeds winning in the first round on Friday night, #3 GW would draw #2 UVA, the home team, for their Saturday night matchup. The first period was a tight one, and the first goal wouldn't happen until UVA broke the stalemate at the 8 minute mark. However, a goal in the final minute of the period by grad student forward Kevin Zhang would tie the game up going into the second period. Perhaps riding the momentum, GW got a goal in the first minute of the second period from senior forward Max Terhar to give GW a 2-1 lead. Once again, GW would fall into penalty trouble at the midpoint of the second period and cede three goals to UVA - two on the powerplay - allowing UVA to take a 4-2 lead. Another timely goal by junior forward Jake Lessick in the final minutes of the second would allow GW to make it a one-goal game going into the third period. UVA wouldn't allow GW another good period start, and cashed in very early in the third to make it a 5-3 game. GW was able to respond within a minute on another goal by Zhang to recover the 1-goal defecit, and around the halfway mark of the period senior forward Luke Yerkovich would tie the game up 5-5, a score the would last the rest of the period, and send the game into overtime. Whereas the regulation time was all about offense, OT seemed to be all about defense, with neither team ceding a shot until the 2-minute mark of overtime when, in a set play, senior forward Max Terhar pushed the puck through the skates of the UVA player on the faceoff and fed a cross-crease pass to freshman forward Will Yerkovich who slammed the puck into a wide open net for the 6-5 OT win. Freshman goalie Alec Astorga would get the win in net after making 15 saves on 15 shots in relief during the third period and OT.
GW's OT win set up a matchup with NC State, which hadn't been seen since the final game of the 2014-2015 regular season when GW fell to NC State in a shootout, coming up 1 point shy of having the best regular season record. This year's NC State squad was way ahead of the pack going 8-1-0 and appearing in their third Admiral's Cup championship in four years, but still looking for a win.
It didn't take long for the scoring to begin as NC State got on the board just over a minute into the game, but GW responded six minutes later with a goal by Max Terhar. NC State would roar right back with another goal, and GW would respond again, and again it would be Max Terhar evening the score. With a little over a minute left in the period, Luke Yerkovich was able to give GW its first lead of the game, and they took a 3-2 score into the locker room. The second period would begin with the ice tilted in GW's favor as Nick Ryan potted two more goals to give GW a 5-2 lead. However, like in the UVA game, penalty trouble late in the second would give NC State the momentum it needed to climb back in, tying the game up 5-5 before the end of the period. The third period once again started out great for GW, with Max Terhar completing his hattrick almost immediately for a 6-5 lead. Nick Ryan would follow up with a hattrick completion of his own at the halfway mark of the third to give GW the 7-5 lead. NC State put in one more goal at the six minute mark to cut the lead to 1. In the final minutes, NC State pulled their goalie hoping to get the tying goal, but Terhar would pick up his fourth goal of the night launching the puck into the opening net with over a minute remaining. NC State would keep their goalie pulled and was able to cut the lead again to one, but GW locked it down and was able to hold on to prevail 8-7 and secure their first ever Admiral's Cup! Alec Astorga had the win in net making 40 saves on 47 shots. For his 4 goal game (and 10 points throughout the tournament), Max Terhar was named Tournament MVP.
Winning the ACCHL Championship has earned the Colonials an autobid to the ACHA D2 Southeast Regional Tournament which will take place this weekend (Feb 26-29) at Prince William Ice Arena in Dale City, VA. GW's first opponent will be the #10 ranked Virginia Tech at 9:30pm on Friday night.
Photo credit: Matt Ricciardi