Courtesy of Trinity Sports Information
MINNEAPOLIS, Minn. – It was a historic evening on Saturday as the Trinity men's ice hockey team defeated Wisconsin Stevens-Point, 5-2, in the 2015 NCAA National Championship inside Ridder Arena. With the win, the Bantams finished the season on a four-game winning streak with a 25-3-1 record en route to the first national title in program history.
With the score knotted at two late in the third period, forward Ethan Holdaway potted his eighth marker of the year to give Trinity a lead it would not relinquish. Holdaway collected a pass from linemate Elie Vered and fired a wrister from just inside the right circle that beat Stevens-Point netminder Brandon Jaeger five hole for the eventual game-winner.
Clinging to a one-goal edge with under four minutes left in the game, Trinity netminder and NCAA Frozen Four Most Outstanding Player Nathaniel Heilbron made several key saves. With under a minute remaining in regulation, the Bantams put the game out of reach with a pair of empty-net goals as Greg Rooney and Conor Coveney found the back of the net.
Heilbron was huge between the pipes all night for Trinity, as he made 35 saves to earn his 19th win of the winter.
On the first shift of the game, the Bantams came out buzzing as forward Tyler Whitney fired a wrist shot from the right circle that clanked off the post. Trinity continued to pressure the Pointers early in the contest and took a 1-0 lead as forward Sean Orlando redirected a shot by from Michael Hawkrigg past Jaeger 3:38 into the game. Orlando's goal came on the power play and was his 15th of the season as Ryan Cole picked up the second assist.
Seven minutes into the first period Trinity was whistled for a tripping penalty as the Pointers looked to steal away the momentum and tie the game. The Bantams shined on the penalty kill, blocking a handful of shots and Heilbron made three nice saves as Trinity held its one-goal advantage. As the Trinity penalty came to an end, the bench got too aggressive on a breakout and too many men on the ice was called. This time on the power play Stevens-Point made the Bantams pay as Kyle Brodie scored his eighth goal of the season on a blast from the point. Through the remainder of the frame the two squads traded scoring chances, but neither was able to capitalize as we entered the first intermission tied at one.
In the second period, penalties played a big role once again as the teams combined for three penalties. Neither squad was able to score with the man advantage as both penalty kills looked sharp. For the second straight frame, Trinity came out buzzing as Hawkrigg scored less than two minutes in to give the Bantams a 2-1 edge. Assistant captain Paul Burns took a shot from the point and Hawkrigg fought off a Stevens-Point defenseman and buried his 16th goal of the winter. With eight minutes left in the stanza, Trinity had another scoring chance as Whitney came flying into the offensive zone along the left boards and fired a shot from just beneath the dot in the circle that clanked off the post for the second time on the night.
Stevens-Point tied the game at two midway through the final period when Nick D'Avolio scored his seventh goal of the season. Trinity responded aggressively and refused to let the Pointers erase a one-goal third-period deficit for the second straight night.
Wisconsin Stevens-Point held a 37-24 advantage in shots and converted one of their four power-play opportunities. On special team, Trinity went 1-for-4 with the man advantage courtesy of Orlando's first period tally.
The Bantams placed four players on the Frozen Four All-Tournament Team as Heilbron, Orlando, Hawkrigg and captain Michael Flynn were honored for their outstanding play this weekend.