Oakland University needed three overtime wins in the American Collegiate Hockey Association Division II National Tournament to be crowned national champions, but they did it.
Yesterday's 7-6 overtime win over Liberty University in Rochester, N.Y., gave the Golden Grizzlies the title.
The Grizzlies road to the championship started with a 10-9 overtime thriller over GMHL rival Indiana University, a 4-3 win over Colorado, a 7-1 victory over Stoneybrook, another overtime victory over Colorado State in the semifinals, and then the 7-6 victory over Liberty yesterday.
"We really came to play night in and night out," Oakland assistant coach J.R. Dunn said. "Being down at least once every game except Stoneybrook really showed the true grit of our team."
Oakland sent their three seniors off on a happy note with two national championships.
"I can't think of a better way to cap of a college career," defenseman B.J. Belliotti said. "We are all sick, hurt, and sore, but we found a way to win."
"I have played in this league for a long time and to go out with another national championship is a great feeling," added forward Dan Oleksy.
The third senior, defenseman Anthony Magdowski, suffered a concussion in the semifinal game against Colorado State and was unable to play in the final.
"I was very disappointed in not being able to have Magdowski in the lineup," said Oakland head coach Sean Hogan. "He was playing his best hockey all season."
This is the Grizzlies' third straight national final and second championship in three seasons. OU captain Brandon Lipari garnered tournament MVP honors and defenseman Dale Swims and forward Will McMahon were honored as All-Tournament Team members.
"I can't say enough about the heart and hustle in our guys," Hogan said. "I am very proud to coach this group of young men."
Next season, the Grizzlies are making the jump to the ACHA Division I level. Home games will still be played at the Onyx in Rochester.
Photo by Ken Schaeffler.