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FAU Wins Again at AAU College Hockey National Championships

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WEST CHESTER, Pa. — Embry-Riddle head coach Bob Joyce wasn’t kidding when he said his team would be a surprise in the 2024 DII AAU College Hockey Nationals

The Eagles came in as the only Florida-based team with a losing record, and while they haven’t won so far in this tournament, they kept the FAU Owls sweating throughout their game Saturday afternoon.

The Owls, coming off a 12-hour layoff and a very physical affair, looked tired but pulled out a 3-2 win. 

ERAU capitalized on the newfound weakness, playing the body strong and forcing the Owls to the penalty box eight times. 

It would take an unlikely hero if the Owls wanted to keep their winning ways alive.

FAU went 18:15 before it scored first, and it survived multiple scares to get there, with goalie Rocco Bruno stopping the first nine shots he faced.

On the power play, Matias Weir brought the puck in the zone on the right side and passed the puck to d-man Justin Greenberg

Greenberg let it rip and Mac Beatrice made the initial save. However, Forward Keith Goldberg was in front to clean up the trash and put home his first of the postseason, and only his second of the entire year.

The second period was a penalty-filled affair, with 26 minutes handed out, including a misconduct to Weir with 11 seconds left, setting the tone for a wild third period.

Matt Beraldi extended the Owls lead in the second with their second power-play goal of the game, and his second goal of the tournament. 

As he cut through the crease, Leon Biller passed the puck from the left corner, and it perfectly hit Beraldi’s stick for a tap-in goal to make it a 2-0 game.

Then, Embry-Riddle flipped the script, scoring two unanswered in the third. 

Ryan Wegenke came in with the puck and, despite losing it, found its way through Bruno for what was credited as an unassisted goal and his second of the season at 1:48.

At the 4:06 mark, Billy Callahan knotted up the score. He took a pass on the right side from Bryce Korner and let it rip past Bruno to make it 2-2.

With 2:19 left in the game, Darren Szanto took a tripping penalty. Greenberg, along with the Owls’ top power play unit, had one more chance to win it.

At the 18:25 mark, Caleb Owens fed Greenberg at the center point. 

He let a one-timer go, Goldberg tipped it past Beatrice to give them the ultimate game-winner at 3-2. 

It was Goldberg’s second of the game and third of the season. He was the most unlikely of heroes, but earned his cape this afternoon.

The Owls will face what should be their toughest test so far Sunday, when they take on Penn State-Harrisburg at 5:15.

As it stands now, they would advance to the Monday quarterfinals regardless of the outcome, but that will depend on the goal differential in the other DII games on Sunday.

The Eagles, who are already eliminated from the quarterfinals, will face Ramapo at 5.

TOURNAMENT NOTES:

 Florida Southern started their tournament run with an 8-2 win over Alvernia University. 

The teams were tied after 1, but the Mocs put up four in the second and threein the third. 

Paul Rigolini had a hat trick, hitting the 25-goal mark in only his 18th game. 

Will Marshall, who missed the CHS Final, came back with a vengeance, also scoring a trio of goals. The CHS leader in all scoring categories now has 38 goals on the season. 

— University of Tampa fell for the first time at any level in the tournament, as their DII side lost 5-2 to Union College. 

The Spartans allowed three goals in the opening frame, and the Dutchmen never looked back.

Goalie Luke Merian was replaced in the third by Ethan Marich, who finished strong, stopping all 8 eight shots he faced. 

— Matthew Scribner scored four goals, and his teammate added six more, including a five-goal third period, to lift UCF to a 10-2 win over Farmingdale State. 

The Knights are now 1-1 and face pool-leading High Point Sunday. 

Due to goal differential, they would own the tiebreaker if they win.

— The top-seeded Tampa Spartans DI team went down in a wild semifinal game at the hands of the South Carolina Gamecocks. 

The game was tied 4-4 until South Carolina scored twice in the final frame. The Gamecocks now go for their first National Championship and will face the University of Buffalo Sunday afternoon.

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