FRISCO, Texas – The Montana State club hockey team’s season came to an end at the American Collegiate Hockey Association Division II National (ACHA) tournament in Frisco, Texas after going 0-3 in pool play.
Pool play opened up on Friday for the fourth-seeded Bobcats as they squared off against top-seeded Aquinas College of Michigan. The Saints showed why they were one of the top teams in the field, blanking MSU 6-0. Aquinas’ Kyle Truax had a hat trick, as well as one assist. Montana State was offensively overpowered by the Saints, being outshot 50-21 in the contest. MSU goalie Christian Butler saved 44 of the 50 shots he faced (.880 percent).
The Cats had a quick turnaround on Saturday, facing second-seeded Penn State University. Montana State struggled to capitalize on crucial opportunities. They Bobcats were 0 for 4 on power plays as they lost to PSU 7-2. Penn State jumped out to a quick 3-0 lead before Ryan Padden netted a shorthanded goal to bring the Bobcats within 3-1 after the first period.
But the Nittany Lions buckled down on defense, holding MSU scoreless in the second while tacking on two more goals. Montana State junior forward Jay Forbes added one more goal for the Bobcats late in the third.
With one last game on Sunday, the Cats squared off against No. 3 Northeastern University. The Huskies defeated Penn State 5-2 on Friday and then breezed past Aquinas College 6-1 on Saturday. Up against their biggest test of the weekend, the Cats fought tooth and nail in their final game, but fell to Northeastern 9-5.
Montana State jumped out to a lead in the first period after Brice Beisher scored an unassisted goal three minutes into the game. After Northeastern tied the game, the Bobcats fired back as Gavin Gary found the back of the net (assisted by Kody Thomas). However, NU closed out the period with two goals to take a 3-2 lead.
But the Bobcats owned the second period, ripping off two quick goals by sophomore Ryan Perius and Big Sky native and senior captain Luke Ping to notch a 4-3 lead heading into the final frame. The Cats looked poised to upset the Huskies 33 seconds into the third period as Bing fed Padden for another goal, extending their lead to two. But then Northeastern turned on its offense, scoring five unanswered goals by five different Huskies to close out the game and end the Cats season.
The Bobcats never expected to get to nationals so quickly, being a program that was only founded in the past few years. Although nationals may have not gone their way, the experience gives the team a much better outlook next year and officially puts Montana State hockey on the map.