Ohio Wesleyan edges Denison 10-9 to win inaugural NCAC tournament title
GRANVILLE, Ohio -- Casey Helms scored what proved to be the deciding goal and goalkeeper Ryan McMahon made a crucial save during the final minute as Ohio Wesleyan edged No. 13 Denison in the championship game of the inaugural North Coast Athletic Conference tournament on Saturday.
The win gives Ohio Wesleyan the NCAC's automatic qualifier to the NCAA Division III tournament. The victory also was the Bishops' first against Denison since the 2007 season, snapping a string of eight consecutive losses to the Big Red.
Ohio Wesleyan led 9-8 heading into the fourth quarter, and Helms' goal at the 10:27 mark of the period increased the margin to 10-8.
Denison closed to within 10-9 on Nick Caravana's man-up goal with 7:58 remaining.
The Big Red got the ball with 51 seconds left, and defenseman Steve Barnett was flagged for a slash with 20 seconds remaining, giving the Big Red a man-up opportunity.
Denison worked the ball to Eddie Vita, but McMahon came up with the save with six seconds remaining, and while Denison tracked down the loose ball, the Big Red were not able to get off another shot at the tying goal.
Chapin Speidel had given the Big Red an early 1-0 lead, but goals from Pat Bassett and Tate Rolland turned that into a 2-1 Bishops advantage.
Scotty Rosenthal broke a 2-2 tie late in the first quarter, putting the Bishops ahead to stay, and John Umbach beat the first-quarter horn with a goal that made it 4-2.
The teams traded goals thrice during the second period, highlighted by Bassett's man-down score with 29 seconds left in the half after Denison had closed to within 6-5 on a Justin DeMarchi score.
Umbach followed with a goal during the opening minute of the third period to increase the Bishops' lead to 8-5.
Denison rallied with a pair of man-up goals, with Will Koontz and Vita connecting, but Rolland's second goal of the game ended that run. Teddy Powell scored to bring the Big Red within 9-8 heading into the final quarter.
Umbach, Bassett and Rolland scored twice for Ohio Wesleyan, while Colin Short collected a goal and three assists.
McMahon recorded a season-high 17 saves in the Bishops crease, with five of those coming during the fourth quarter.
Caravana scored two goals for Denison. Chris Thomas stopped seven shots in the Big Red crease.