by PJ Dumnich
Before the NCHA National Championship Tournament could take place, the Pitt-Greensburg Bobcats took on Carnegie Mellon University in the open-league playoffs.
It was a hard-fought match throughout the game, but Carnegie Mellon ruined the Bobcats’ chances of repeating as champions with a 5-4 overtime win.
Freshman defenseman Luc Tilley said that it was a “tough game to lose next to the guys I call family, but next week we take it all in nationals and come back champions.”
With their minds focused on a new goal, the Bobcats headed to Newark, Ohio.
Before the official tournament could start, three games took place in order for every team to earn a seed in the tournament.
With a 1-2 record in the seeding games, Pitt-Greensburg was given the third overall seed in the tournament.
Given the three seed, the Bobcats were set to face off against the second seed, the University of Buffalo, in the semifinal.
The Bobcats found themselves down by a goal with one minute left, and their hopes of moving onto the championship were diminishing with each passing second.
That is until Nico Vecchio received what may have been the timeliest penalty shot of his career.
In clutch fashion, the captain capitalized on his opportunity in order to tie the game up, 4-4.
Sticking with the clutch theme, Dan Merz scored his first of the game with 6.5 seconds left in regulation in order to send the Bobcats onto the championship game against St. John Fisher College.
Vecchio finished with two goals and one assist, Dante Youhon with one goal, Anthony Maroadi with two assists, Dan Merz with one goal, and goaltender Ryan Palonis with one assist and the W.
With the energy that is brought to a national-championship game, and the Bobcats’ matchup against St. John Fisher did not disappoint.
The Bobcats were tied with St. John to enter the second period, thanks to two goals from Merz.
From that point on, the game got out of hand for the Bobcats, and they were never able to gain the lead, despite Merz’s hat trick, a goal from Tilley, and a goal from Vecchio.
The final score was 5-8, and St. John Fisher was crowned the NCHA National Champions.
A repeat never happened for these 2014-2015 Pitt-Greensburg Bobcats, but a record of 24-6-0 and second place in the NCHA playoffs are nothing of which to be ashamed.
Although they finished second, Nico Vecchio was honored with the “Most Valuable Player” award for his accomplishments in the tournament.
The Bobcats will lose some key players next season in their seniors and those who are moving onto Oakland, but their sights will still be on reclaiming what was once theirs.
Their desire is something that will never change— no matter how much the roster does.