NEWARK, Del.– The championship game is set.
Tuesday evening, No. 1 ASU hockey will skate against No. 3 Robert Morris. To the winner goes the Murdoch Cup, the trophy given to the ACHA national champion.
Robert Morris went to overtime in its semifinal game against No. 2 Oklahoma, winning on a blast from the top of the right circle by sophomore forward Nick Ernst that went top-shelf and over the goalie’s blocker to sent Robert Morris to its first national title game.
“Good team, very well-coached,” ASU coach Greg Powers said. “They’re in the national championship for a reason, they’re obviously very good.”
The goalies will be the story of the title game. Neither ASU freshman Robert Levin nor Robert Morris junior goalie Anthony Petrak allowed a goal in either of their first two tournament games. The holes in their respective armors were shown in the semifinal games though.
Levin allowed three goals against Stony Brook, and Petrak allowed two against Oklahoma.
Powers praised Petrak and said they will need to break his vision in order to beat him.
“He tracks the puck probably better than any goalie we’ve seen all year,” Powers said.
ASU’s offense has been led by an unlikely cast of characters. The fourth line of freshman Patrick Yudez and seniors Troy Scott and David Jantzie have combined for five goals and 12 points. Jantzie leads the team with five points and three goals and Scott is second with four. Yudez is tied for the team lead with three assists.
ASU will also get a shot in the arm with the return of senior forward Brian McGinty. McGinty was disqualified for fighting Friday against Rhode Island and was suspended for ASU’s last two games. He will return to the line with junior Faiz Khan and senior Colin Hekle.
Ernst won the game for Robert Morris on Monday night, and the Eagles will rely on him Tuesday. He leads the team with three goals and is tied for the lead with six points. The other player with six points, sophomore forward Chris Pontello, leads the tournament with five assists.
ASU and Robert Morris last met in Tempe on Dec. 7 and 8, 2012. The teams split the series, with ASU winning 7-4 and Robert Morris winning 5-3 the next night.
Last season, Robert Morris was eliminated in the first round of the national tournament as the No. 5 seed, losing in overtime to Iowa State.
As a No. 2 seed, ASU made it to the semifinals last year before falling to Lindenwood.
“On paper we have better players, we have more talent, we have better depth at every position,” Powers said. “Nothing against Robert Morris, but if our guys go out and perform in the way that they can and they way we want them to, like we said all year, nobody is going to beat us.”
ASU or Robert Morris will walk out of Delaware with the national title. The only question left is which team. That will be decided Tuesday at 4 p.m. Arizona time.
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