Hartford, Conn. - Senior forward Sean Orlando (Ivyland, Pa.) scored two goals in the first eight minutes and classmate Brandon Cole (Anchorage, Alaska) also scored twice to lead the Trinity College Bantams to a 4-1 victory over the visiting SUNY Plattsburgh Cardinals in the opening round of the NCAA Division III Men's Ice Hockey Championship Tournament this evening at Williams Rink in the Koeppel Community Sports Center. Trinity, ranked No. 8 in the nation, improves to 19-6-3 with its ninth win in a row and will face Endicott College in the NCAA Quarterfinals next Saturday. The No. 12-ranked Cardinals close the year at 17-10-1 with their second NCAA loss to the Bantams in three seasons.Trinity defeated Plattsburgh State, 5-1, at home in the NCAA Quarterfinals on its way to the 2015 NCAA title.
Trinity took advantage of the game's first penalty, scoring 35 seconds into the power play when Orlando received a pass from senior forward Ryan Cole (Anchorage, Alaska) and used some nifty stick work to beat Cardinal senior goaltender Brady Rouleau (Fort Macleod, Alberta) over the shoulder with a back-hand flip. Bantam junior forward Tyler Whitney (Wakefield, Mass.) was also credited with an assist on the play, and he added another helper when his shot from the right wing caromed off Rouleau to the left and Orlando slapped it back in to give Trinity a 2-0 advantage with 7:14 remaining in the opening stanza. The Trinity defense did not yield a shot on goal the rest of the first period and finished with a 13-6 shooting edge.
"After the first goal, I tried to keep my emotions neutral," said Orlando. "I was excited inside, but I tried to hold it in check to show the bench that everything was business as usual."
Plattsburgh State cut its deficit in half early in the second period when freshman forward Joe Drabin (Rochester, N.Y.) one-timed in a shot from straight-on off a pass by sophomore forward Cam Owens (Wilmington, Mass.) 3:31 after the first break. Brandon Cole scored Trinity's second power-play goal with 12:46 left in the middle frame, converting on a back-handed pass from left to right through traffic in front of the net by senior forward Ethan Holdaway (Glastonbury, Conn.) to push the Bantam lead up to 3-1. The Cardinals nearly closed the gap again in the closing moments of the second period, but Drabin's bid on hit the post after he had gotten by behind the Trinity defense with 50 seconds on the clock.
Plattsburgh State had a second opportunity to cut the Trinity lead to 3-2 early in the final period, but Trinity junior goalie Alex Morin (St. Hubert, Quebec) stopped a hard shot from close by Cardinal sophomore defenseman Jakob Engvall (Jonkoping, Sweden) and dove to save the rebound attempt by sophomore forward Ross Sloan (Oakville, Ontario) after the puck had settled right in front of an open space in the Bantam net. Morin needed to make five more saves the rest of the way and Plattsburgh State pulled Rouleau with 2:45 on the clock, but the lone scoring in the final frame was an empty-netter with nine ticks remaining by Brandon Cole that accounted for the 4-1 final tally.
"We felt like we had a good game plan going in and we got some breaks early, but when an All-American like Sean Orlando makes a play like he did to open the game we knew we could be in for a special night," said Trinity Head Coach Matt Greason. "And we needed a special night to beat a really good Plattsburgh team that is going to be a factor at the national level for the next several years."