Nittany Lions’ roar turns to whimper as Rhody takes national hockey crown
Dave Lavallee, 401-874-5862
For years, the University of Rhode Island’s men’s hockey team has been knocking on the door of a national championship, but Penn State has often barred the way.
This year the No. 1 ranked Rams dominated the Nittany Lions and captured their first American Collegiate Hockey Association Division I national championship. Rhode Island posted a 4-0-1 record against Penn State in the 2005-2006 season, and finished the year with a 36-2-3 mark.
In the national title game at Westchester, Pa. on March 5, the Rams posted a 3-1 win over the Nittany Lions in large part because of the brilliant play of goalie Anthony Feock, who made 45 saves. He was named the tournament’s most valuable player, allowing just four goals in as many games.
In directing his team to the national title, coach Joe Augustine, a former standout at Boston College, completed his 17th year at the Rhode Island helm with an overall record of 338-14-31. "The team had many character guys who all worked together in winning a national championship," Augustine said.
The title game was typical of the rivalry between Penn State and Rhode Island, a pairing that usually means hard hitting, end-to-end action. When the teams square off at the Boss Arena at URI, students fill the stands behind the Penn State bench, chanting in unison throughout the contest.
The intensity was no different in Westchester as the teams were scoreless after two periods.
In the third period, Rhody opened the scoring with about 10 minutes to play on a goal by Warwick’s David Berardinalli. He deflected a Mike Curran shot into the cage. Matt Loftus had the other assist.
Penn State tied it with just 3:30 left in the game, but Loftus scored off a rebound with 53 seconds to play to give the Rams the 2-1 advantage. Derreck Douglas and Curran assisted.
URI senior captain Brendan Kape, who scored the winning goal in double-overtime against Michigan-Dearborn in the semifinals, put home an empty-net tally with 17 seconds to go. North Kingstown’s Graham Johnson assisted.
“The guys really came together to capture the national championship,” said assistant coach Christian Rigamonti. “Our captain, Brandon Kape provided great leadership, so it was only fitting for him to score the double-overtime goal against Michigan-Dearborn and the empty-netter in the Penn State win.”
In addition to Feyock’s selection as the tourney MVP, Jon Biliouris, Loftus and Curran were named to the All-Tournament first team and Mark Latter was named to the All Tournament second team.