Hokie Lax went into Chapman Stadium riding high after an emotional 10-9 victory over the #2 seed Arizona State Sun Devils. In the semifinals they were matched up with the defending champion and #3 seed Colorado Buffaloes.
This was a tall task, and the Hokies knew they would need to play a nearly flawless game to move onto the national championship. The defense would also have to adjust to losing key starting defenseman Andrew Baird, who broke his foot against Arizona State.
Virginia Tech 11, Colorado 12
The Hokies came out of the gate a little slow as the Buffs tallied the first two goals of the game. Ryan Palmopo got the Hokies on the board off of a nice dodge and Alex Clough followed it up with a nice shot to the top left corner to tie the game at 2. The first quarter ended with the game tied 3-3.
Virginia Tech found an offensive spark in the second quarter as Kyle Mancini finished a nice dish from Conrad Unterkofler to take the lead 4-3. Unterkofler then found Jack Keller on the crease on the man-advantage to increase the Hokie lead to 5-3. A strong second quarter on both offense and defense resulted in a 7-4 Hokies lead at the half.
However, the Buffaloes did not go away. Led by strong individual offense through Riley Culm and Colin Macilvennie, the Buffaloes stormed back to score the first 5 goals of the second half and take a 9-7 lead. The third quarter ended with the Hokies trailing 9-7.
Alex Clough opened the scoring of the fourth quarter with a nice rip to cut the lead to 9-8. The Buffaloes answered with a nice alley dodge to make the score 10-8. Mancini then hit a nice underhand worm-burner to make 10-9 Buffaloes.
Then it was the Conrad show to close the game for the Hokies. With the Hokies down by one goal twice in the last five minutes, Conrad sniped one goal lefty to the bottom corner followed by a righty rocket to the top left corner to tie the game at 11. Regulation ended with an 11-11 score.
The Hokies opened overtime with a nice defensive stop and then called time-out to setup the offense. An unfortunate tipped pass for the Hokies led to a turnover and then an illegal body check penalty on the Hokies. The man-down held strong and killed off the penalty.
Despite great defense by the Hokies, the Buffaloes’ Colin Macilvennie flipped an incredible shot behind his back and into the goal for the winning goal in overtime. It felt like déjà vu: Another overtime heartbreak for the Hokies.
Check out Mark Babicke’s comprehensive analysis of the game along with the entire game film!
Despite the tough loss, it was an incredible season for Hokie Lax. They proved that they are one of the top teams in the country and that they are here to stay.
The seniors of the 2015 class won an incredible 3 SELC tournaments and led the Hokies to a final four appearance. They will surely be missed.
Coach Matt Schroeder won MCLA Coach of the Year for his fantastic efforts and the Hokies landed six players on the MCLA All-American list.
Overall, it was a very successful season, and the Hokies look forward to getting back to work and preparing for next year.