SHANNON, PA (Thursday, February 26th, 2009) – The Youngstown State University men’s hockey team is off to the Ice Castle in Shannon, PA, this weekend for the College Hockey Mid-America league playoffs.
The Penguins have ridden a hot streak into the postseason, winning four of their last six regular season contests including wins over #14 Michigan-Dearborn and CHMA league rivals John Carroll and IUP.
YSU opened its tear with a 4-3 shootout victory over John Carroll; Michael Stokar buried the game-winner in the decisive shootout, picking up two big points in the league standings at Gilmour Academy in Gates Mills, OH.
Matthew Jacob turned aside 34 Blue Streak shots in net for the Penguins.
Penguins head coach Rocky Russo said that the goaltending of Jacob and fellow keeper Adam Chudnofsky have been the cornerstone of YSU’s run to the playoffs.
“I can’t say enough about Matt and Adam,” said Russo. “Both have been stellar in net, and Matt has also contributed as a forward with a goal and an assist in three games.”
The Pens followed up the shootout victory with a 5-2 thumping of Mercyhurst at the Ice Zone in Boardman. Sophomore forward Naaman Moorman tallied a hat trick while former high school teammates Stokar and Zak Kusek added in a goal each as YSU rolled to its 15th win of the season.
Stokar and Kusek played together at Parma’s Padua Franciscan High School.
The Penguins continued their roll with a 3-2 home triumph over IUP. Kevin Pawlos played the hero for Youngstown State in the game, posting the game-winner in the shootout to give the Pens their sixth win in division play.
Russo said that Pawlos and the rest of YSU’s defensemen are doing the little things to spur the Pens’ into postseason play.
“Our defensive corps of Pawlos, Michael Kestas, Alex Arnold and Jeremy Ragone have been fantastic,” said the fourth-year bench boss. “They are making simple plays and consistently getting the puck out of the defensive zone.”
Youngstown State saw their three-game win streak end with a 14-6 home loss to 14th-ranked Michigan-Dearborn, but the Penguins bounced back the next night with a 3-2 win over the Wolves.
Jacob turned aside 39 UM-D shots while Pawlos, Bob Walla and Cody Parker tallied goals for the Pens in the win.
“The guys showed an incredible amount of composure against Dearborn,” said Russo. “To lose the way we did in the Friday game and come back the next night and win was really quite impressive.”
YSU suffered a 2-1 setback at the hands of Washington & Jefferson to close the season, but still finished 6-7-1 in the CHMA, giving them 13 points and the #6 seed for the CHMA playoffs. The Penguins edged out Slippery Rock (5-7-0) for the final spot in the postseason.
Youngstown State opens the playoffs against IUP at the Ice Palace on Friday at 6:00 PM. The Penguins are 1-1 against the Crimson Hawks this season.
The Youngstown State University Men’s Hockey Club is sponsored by the B.J. Alan Company - Phantom Fireworks, located in Youngstown, Ohio.