Chayka's goal with 12.9 seconds left lifts No. 1 Mercyhurst past No. 9 Dowling
12-11 win stretches regular-season streak to 29 games
Mercyhurst fell behind early, but gathered itself and got back in the game. Each team threw haymakers back and forth, with Dowling eventually taking a 9-6 advantage late in the third quarter. The Lakers responded again, as Chayka scored to tie the game at 10 with 5:11 remaining.
Mitch McAvoy won the ensuing faceoff and sprinted in, finding Jake McAndrew for a goal and an 11-10 edge with 4:58 left. The Golden Lions answered, however, as Matt Crough scored his fourth goal of the day to even the score with 1:35 to play to set up the dramatic finish.
McAvoy faced off with Louis Riley. McAvoy pushed the ball toward the Dowling net and eventually corralled possession long enough for Mercyhurst head coach Chris Ryan to call timeout and set up a final play. After running down the clock, the Lakers swung the ball around. Chayka passed right to Zac Reid, who threw to Scheetz behind the goal. Scheetz moved to his right and found Chayka, who fired from 12 yards out, beating Dowling goalie Myles Harvey with 12.9 seconds showing on the clock.
On the next faceoff, Riley had a step on McAvoy, but Ryan Sullivan stepped in and scooped up the ground ball, allowing the Lakers to run out the clock and escape with their biggest win of the year.
Dowling came out of the gates on fire, going ahead 4-0 after 8:14 in the first quarter. Mercyhurst quickly dusted itself off and got to work. Scheetz assisted on a McAndrew goal with 6:26 remaining to get on the board. Fifty seconds later, Brady Heseltine scored. However, Derek Muzio answered with a Lions goal to regain some control.
After a Michael Grace save, the Lakers went on the attack, with Reid scoring at the 3:23 mark to make it 5-3. Mercyhurst stopped a Dowling man-up chance, as Sullivan caused a turnover and passed ahead to McAndrew, who was stopped, but Patrick Maloney collected the rebound and scored with seven seconds left in the period. It was Maloney's first career goal.
The first quarter saw five penalties and the second frame matched that number. Neither offense could get much momentum going, as each side had several man-up opportunities bear no fruit. Dowling eventually put a few shots on goal and with 11 seconds remaining, Kevin McElhone scored to give the visitors a 6-4 halftime lead.
The second half was a heart-stopping, seesaw affair. Dowling scored just 36 seconds in, taking a 7-4 advantage. The Lakers fought back. With 9:35 left in the frame, Chayka scored his first goal of the game. McAvoy won the ensuing faceoff and went on the offensive. He shot, but Harvey stopped the try. McAvoy dove and poked the ball past Harvey nine seconds after Chayka's goal. With momentum on its side, Mercyhurst attempted four shots, but came up empty each time. The Lions gained possession and called timeout with 4:18 showing on the clock. Dylan Hopkins promptly scored and Crough found the back of the net to make it 9-6 with 2:56 left.
Once again, Mercyhurst bounced back. After Chayka hit the post, McAndrew scored to cut the deficit to 9-7 with 33 seconds to go in the third. The drama continued in the fourth period, as Chayka shot and then picked up the rebound and scored while falling down. The goal made it 9-8 with 12:11 remaining. Dowling, the 2012 champions, responded with another Crough goal at the 8:47 mark.
Less than a minute later, McAndrew hit Chayka for another goal to pull the Lakers back within one. After a Dowling turnover, Mercyhurst finally had another chance to tie the score. With 5:11 left, Scheetz assisted on another Chayka goal, putting the score at 10 all.
Chayka finished with a career-high five goals, including four in the fourth quarter. McAndrew had three goals and an assist. Scheetz posted three assists, while McAvoy had a goal and a helper. Crough paced the Lions with four goals. Grace made 12 saves in net, while Harvey recorded 15 stops.
Mercyhurst outshot Dowling 46-34 and picked up 26 ground balls to 14 for Dowling (5-3). Riley won 15 of 25 faceoffs, but McAvoy came up with several key wins to keep the Lakers in it.
The Lakers (9-0) now have won 29 consecutive regular-season games and 17 consecutive regular-season home outings.