NESCAC Final: No. 3 Trinity 3, No. 1 Hamilton 2 (OT)

NESCAC Final: No. 3 Trinity 3, No. 1 Hamilton 2 (OT)

Courtesy of Hamilton Sports Information

CLINTON, N.Y. - Trinity College's Ryan Cole scored 3:09 into overtime and lifted the third-seeded Bantams to a 3-2 win against the top-seeded Hamilton College Continentals in the 2017 NESCAC Men's Hockey Championship final at Hamilton's Russell Sage Rink on Sunday afternoon.

Trinity (18-6-3 overall) defended its 2016 conference title and earned an automatic bid to the 2017 NCAA Division Men's Hockey Championship. The Bantams will take an eight-game win streak into the national tournament. Trinity has won four NESCAC men's hockey crowns, which is second only to Middlebury's eight.

Hamilton (19-4-4) was playing in its first conference final in the Continentals' 15th championship appearance. Hamilton entered the day with a seven-game win streak and had outscored its opponents 27-12 during that stretch. The Continentals will wait to find out if they receive an at-large bid to the NCAA Championship on Monday, March 6 at 10:30 a.m. when the field is announced. In two previous meetings with the Bantams this season, Hamilton came away with a 4-1 win in Hartford back on Dec. 2 and played to a 2-2 tie at home on Jan. 27.

Liam Feeney led the Trinity offense with a goal and an assist, and Anthony Sabitsky picked up a pair of helpers. Alex Morin made 36 saves including four in overtime.

Robbie Murden and Bennett Morrison scored the goals for the Continentals, and Evan Buitenhuis turned away 45 shots. Murden became the 26th player in Hamilton men's hockey history to reach the 100-point milestone for his career. He had missed the previous nine games with an upper-body injury. Morrison, a defenseman, has scored a goal in five of the last six games.

Cole's 13th goal of the season came just seven seconds after the Bantams won a faceoff in the Continentals' zone. He scored on a wrist shot from the left circle. Sabitsky and Feeney were credited with their 15th assists this season.

Neither team scored in a first period that featured 30 shots on goal. The goaltender duel between Buitenhuis and Morin continued deep into the second period until both teams exploded for four goals in the final three minutes of the second.

Hamilton grabbed a 2-0 lead on goals scored 28 seconds apart. Morrison notched his seventh with 2:57 left after he intercepted an attempt to clear the puck out of Trinity's zone at the blue line and lifted a wrist shot past Morin from above the right circle. Murden made it a two-goal lead with 2:29 remaining with his fifth goal this season and the 48th of his career. He scored on a sharp-angle shot from below the left faceoff circle that squeezed between Morin and the left post on his stick side.

The Bantams roared back to tie the score before the end of the period. Feeney cut Trinity's deficit in half on his fifth goal with 1:51 to go. The defenseman scored on a wrist shot from above the left circle that found its way through traffic and settled into the back of the net.

Brandon Cole drew the Bantams even on his sixth goal with 18 seconds left in the second. A save by Morin led to a rush up ice after the puck bounced several feet away and was picked up by Sean Orlando, who skated with it into the Continentals' zone. Orlando sent a pass across the slot to Cole and he redirected it into the goal from the left post. Orlando picked up his 18th assist.

The teams combined for 19 shots and three power plays in the third period. Trinity finished with a 48-38 shot advantage and was 0-for-2 on the power play. Hamilton had plenty of opportunities but ended up 0-for-6 on the power play. 

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