From Colonial State College Hockey Conference
By Michael Battista
The 2022 Colonial Cup Tournament is finally here after six months of competition. Seven teams will compete this coming weekend at CURE Insurance Arena in Trenton, New Jersey in the seventh edition of the Colonial State College Hockey Conference’s playoff tournament. The field includes the four-time defending champion, three other teams that have previously reached the championship game, and two teams making their playoff debuts.
The champion will earn both the Colonial Cup along with the conference’s automatic bid to the ACHA Southeast Regional tournament. That will be held on February 25-27 at OhioHealth Chiller Ice Rink in Columbus, Ohio.
Colonial Cup Playoff Schedule at Cure Insurance Arena in Trenton, NJ
Quarterfinals – Friday, Feb 18th
3:30 PM: (3) The College of New Jersey vs (6) University of Scranton
6:10 PM: (2) Millersville University vs (7) Seton Hall University
8:50 PM: (4) Stockton University vs (5) Bryn Athyn College
Semifinals – Saturday, Feb 19th
2:15 PM: (1) University of Pennsylvania vs Lowest Remaining Seed
5:00 PM: Highest Remaining Seed vs 2nd Lowest Remaining Seed
Championship Game – Sunday, Feb 20th
2:15 PM: Semifinal Winners
#3 The College of New Jersey vs #6 University of Scranton
A rematch of the 2019 Colonial Cup Championship will kick off the playoffs on Friday afternoon. The four-time defending conference champion Lions swept the regular season series against the Royals.
TCNJ’s inconsistent fall has made way for an impressive spring semester. The Lions went 7-0 in conference play since the start of 2022. That run includes a win over the nearly undefeated UPenn and three games where the team scored seven or more goals. Forward Will Herrington leads the team in conference goals (9) on a unit that isn’t afraid to spread out the scoring. On defense, however, the star has undoubtedly been goalie Michael Bussanich who’s save percentage (.921%) is third best in the Colonial.
For Scranton, being the only playoff team with a losing record would make it easy to write them off. However the Royals finished the regular season on a high. The team won three of it’s final five games including a close loss against Millersville on February 9th. Their penultimate win against Bryn Athyn on the 12th prevented the Lions from taking the fourth seed as well. On the ice, graduate student Peter Cassidy has been a major force for his team in his final season with at least nine goals through all competitions. Meanwhile, head coach Stefan Fusco hasn’t been afraid to switch out leading goaltender Andrew Lenway with back-up Stephen Brennan mid-game.
#2 Millersville University vs #7 Seton Hall University
Despite finishing the season with 25 points each, Millersville and Seton Hall could not be more different of teams. The only regular season game between the two this season saw the Marauders blowout the Pirates, 10-3, last November.
Millersville’s second place finish in the Liberty Division is it’s best regular season result since the Colonial’s inaugural season in 2014–15 (they finished 1st that year). Head coach Eric Hench has continued to craft the Marauders into one of the hardest teams to beat in the conference. Freshman goalie Jackson Bell might be the breakout star of the unit, leading the CSCHC in shutouts (2) and save percentage (.930%). However, his teammates on the other side have been just as efficient. Two of the top five conference goal scorers this season are Marauders (Cole McCulley & Jacob Burke). If they can stay out of the penalty box, they can make a run to Columbus, Ohio.
Seton Hall is returning to the playoffs for the first time since it’s run to the inaugural championship game in 2015. The winners of the Independence Division might have a tall task against Millersville but they have the weapons to be a dangerous threat. Senior captain Cameron Toussaint has led by example as the Pirates leading scorer and the Colonial’s leading scorer among defenseman (12 goals and 15 assists). New players like sophomore Tyler Fearon and Jimmy Griffon have blossomed into proven goal scorers. Meanwhile John McCarthy has the second highest save percentage in the conference (.923%), though with only six games played.
Fun fact: Seton Hall upset Millersville in the 2015 Colonial Cup playoffs. The regular season champion Marauders had a bye into the semifinals but lost to the #4 Pirates, 6-5, in overtime.
#4 Stockton University vs #5 Bryn Athyn College
The final quarterfinal game will be between the two new Colonial teams from this year. During the regular season, the winner between the Ospreys and Lions was always the road team. Bryn Athyn took the points in an overtime thriller in what was the team’s first ever Colonial game last October. However, the NJ school responded earlier this month with a 5-1 blowout at the Junge Ice Rink.
Despite having their Colonial debut pushed back a year Stockton has been one of the strongest units on the ice. Playing the second densest schedule among conference teams (26 games), the Ospreys notched wins against some of the ACHA’s best including Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (Northeast Region #6). In conference, however, Stockton has had less consistency. The team has had great nights led by leading goalscorer Mickenzie Restle. However, other times the unit has struggled to keep high powered offenses off net.
For it’s part, Bryn Athyn has worked hard to not become the “other” Lions of the conference. For all the team has done in 2021/22 the main focus has been the performance of senior Zachary Pamaylaon. The Hawaii native is the conference leader in goals scored (22), assists (40), points (62), and points-per-game (3.88). What’s more, Pamaylaon has the most assists of any player in ACHA D2 (47) and the second most points (73). Others like Landen Sill, Eric Higgins, and Michael Perkett have all scored ten or more goals across all games this year. On the other side of the puck, Michal Nabozny has been the Lions’ main man between the pipes with the sixth best save percentage of active conference goalies (five or more games played).
Note: If Bryn Athyn wins the Colonial Cup it will not be going to the regional tournament. ACHA rules state that a team joining the association is barred from regional/national postseason contention for it’s first season. If the Lions do win the cup, the next available team in the final ACHA Southeast rankings will get the CSCHC’s auto-berth spot.
(1) University of Pennsylvania
The only playoff team not playing on Friday, the Quakers have been near perfect this season on the ice. The only teams to take points away from regular season champions were Stockton last November and TCNJ earlier this year. UPenn became just the second team to become a two-time Colonial regular season champion behind it’s 14-2-0 record. Will Torgerson leads the team with 14 goals this year while Xander Kostelnik has an astounding 12 wins in net.
Of note, UPenn placed #13th in the final ACHA Southeast Region rankings. This puts the team in-line for a potential at-large bid to the regional tournament without winning the Colonial Cup. Teams ranked in the Top 10 get an auto bid to either the ACHA National or Regional tournaments. If any of those teams win their conference playoffs (or the winning team is either ineligible or declines) those auto-bids are nullified and the next team in the rankings gets the spot.
For the Quakers to get an at-large bid, all three of the other Southeast Region conferences would need to be won by a higher ranked team. Those schools are:
Atlantic Coast Collegiate Hockey League: #3 North Carolina State
Mid-Atlantic Collegiate Hockey Association: #2 Liberty, #5 Rowan. #6 Penn State, #9 Rider, or #12 Delaware
Tri-State Collegiate Hockey League: #4 Miami (OH), #7 Indiana, #8 Kentucky, or #10 Ohio State
If ineligible Bryn Athyn wins the Colonial Cup, only two of the above would need to happen for UPenn to get into regionals. This is the first time a Colonial team has been in the running for an at-large regional tournament berth during conference tournament season.
(Originally published at https://cschc.acha.hockeytech.com/colonial-cup-playoff-preview)