Lehigh players celebrate after scoring the winning goal at the Lehigh-Lafayette ice hockey match on Dec. 6. The Lehigh Mountain Hawks beat the Lafayette Leopards 5-4 in overtime. (Chris Barry/B&W photo)

Hockey secures intense overtime victory against Lafayette


An overtime goal from sophomore forward Chris Ramondelli secured a 5-4 victory over rival Lafayette for the men’s ice hockey team at the PPL Center on Saturday afternoon.

Ramondelli pounced on a loose puck to seal the victory for the Hawks when the puck found its way out of a scrum around the net and onto Ramondelli’s stick.

“As a little guy, Chris just did a great job of banging away at the puck,” coach Tom Laessig said. “He just wanted to score and the puck went in.”

The Mountain Hawks overcame a furious Lafayette comeback in the third period, where the Mountain Hawks squandered a 4-1 lead. Lafayette’s Eli Karp tied the game at four on a slap shot from the right circle with a minute and a half remaining.

“In the third period we lost our edge, which was unfortunate,” senior forward Garren Fritts said. “Our third period play needs to be better.”

Laessig also highlighted a lack of team play in the final period as a main reason why the Mountain Hawks relinquished their three goal cushion.

“Give Lafayette credit, they never backed down even when we went up big,” Laessig said. “We relaxed in the third period. We started doing more stick handling, not doing the things that got us the lead in the first place.”

The end of regulation also provided some controversy. With five seconds left, Lehigh’s Kevin McGee had a golden opportunity, as he found himself skating alone toward Lafayette’s goaltender, until a last-gasp dive from a Lafayette defender upended him.

Although the Lehigh fans in attendance and Lehigh players pleaded with the referees to award a penalty shot, they ultimately decided not to award it. Regulation ended with the score tied at four.

While the first period ended with the score knotted at one, Lehigh dominated the second period. After giving up a shorthanded goal early in the period, the Mountain Hawks responded with a barrage of goals. Lehigh scored three goals in the span of five minutes in the second period.

McGee, a sophomore forward from White Plains, New York, skated past a Lafayette defender and buried a shot into the roof of the net as he rushed towards the goalie from the left for Lehigh’s fourth goal of the night.

Laessig said that the team’s ability to make quick passes up the ice and attack the puck were reasons for the team’s three goal outburst in the second period.

Physical play, from both Lafayette and Lehigh, was a constant theme of the game. There were a number of big hits throughout. Fritts, who had a big hit of his own, said physicality is something that the Hawks always try to implement into the game.

“Hitting came more naturally today, I think, probably because we played Lafayette,” Fritts said. “Against those guys, it’s always a bit more intense.”

While the Hawks were able to cap off their experience at the PPL Center with a victory, their inability to finish the game and take care of the puck in crucial situations almost cost them the game. Lafayette was presented with opportunities because of Lehigh’s giveaways in the neutral zone.

“We have to learn how to protect a lead like that, because we haven’t had too many of them,” Laessig said. “We’ve got to play team hockey right down to the end.”

Although the Mountain Hawks gave up four goals, junior goalie Patrick Walgren was solid in net for the better part of the game. Walgren missed the opportunity to save Lafayette’s fourth goal, but he did a nice job of moving on, Laessig said.

“He just saw the replay, smiled and let it roll off of his shoulders,” Laessig said. “That’s part of what makes him the goalie that he is.”

Laessig also praised the play of Lehigh’s secondary lines. While the first line struggled to have a huge impact on the game, players like Evan Goldstein, who scored two goals, were able to step up and provide a spark for the Mountain Hawks.

Laessig said that the players really enjoyed the opportunity to play at the PPL Center, the home of the AHL’s Lehigh Valley Phantoms. The Phantoms are the minor league affiliate for the Philadelphia Flyers.

“To win in overtime like that at the PPL Center meant a lot to all of us,” Fritts said.

With final exams and winter break upcoming, the Mountain Hawks will get an extended respite from the ice. Their next game will take place at the Steel Ice Center on Jan. 16, where they will take on Drexel University.

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