By: Travis Hall, Staff writer
Lebanon Valley College’s men’s ice hockey hosted its 7th annual military appreciation night last Friday as the Stevenson Mustangs came into Hersheypark Arena for the first matchup of the two expansion teams in the ECAC West.
The game marked the initiation of a rivalry that stems between the two schools in nearly every sport. What ensued showed that this rivalry will have a long and exciting future.
Between the larger crowd in attendance and the pregame ceremony, nerves got the best of the Dutchmen in the first period. They fell into their early season ways, sacrificed three goals and entered the first intermission with a deficit of 3-0. It looked as though the team had a ‘here we go again’ mentality.
“We weren’t going to get outworked on our own military night,” sophomore forward Brett Johnson said. “Not happening.”
This mentality electrified the Dutchmen as they turned the momentum and dominated the second frame. After letting up an early goal to fall down 4-0, the Dutchmen controlled play, scoring two goals in the latter half of the period to pull within two goals.
With only 20 minutes remaining to make up those two goals, the Dutchmen needed heroes, and the story of the third period belonged to two freshmen. Cole Hepler netted a shorthanded goal halfway through the period, and Jared Karas added the equalizer in the last minute of regulation to send the game to overtime.
The extra period had its excitement, but ultimately the game ended in a tie. It was a perhaps a poetic end to the inaugural match between the rivals.
Overall, the military night was considered a success on and off the ice. The atmosphere was loud and vibrant; money was raised for a good cause; and the Dutchmen earned their first point in conference play. This game may be the spark the boys need on in their continued search for their first win of the season.
The Dutchmen hold a 0-7-2 (0-6-1) record as they prepare for a road trip to Boston next weekend for out-of-conference play Saturday at 7 p.m. against Daniel Webster and Sunday at 1 p.m. at Southern New Hampshire. The Dutchmen faced off twice against Daniel Webster last season and won both games.