The Boys are Back
By Don Olea
After playing host to NHL, AHL and the Greater Nashville Area Scholastic Hockey (GNASH) games over the past 11 years, Bridgestone arena in Nashville finally hosted the first-ever NCAA hockey games played in the state of Tennessee.
The January 15-16 series featured the University of Alabama-Huntsville Chargers against the 15th-ranked Merrimack Warriors.
The series also marked the return of UAH forwards and Brentwood, TN natives freshman Brice and sophomore Sebastian Geoffrion – brothers of the Predators’ Blake Geoffrion, currently assigned to the Milwaukee Admirals.
Sebastian got things rolling in front of the hometown crowd in the Friday night opener as senior center Neil Ruffini (Roswell, Ga.) grabbed the puck on a two-on-one breakaway with Sebastian and fired a wrister that Merrimack goalie Joe Cannata blocked, but Sebastian found the loose puck at his skates firing the rebound past Cannata giving UAH an early 1-0 lead only 6:26 into the game.
Sebastian also had an assist on the Chargers third goal staking UAH to a 3-0 lead midway through the second period.
Unfortunately for the Chargers, Merrimack showed why it is a nationally ranked team as they reeled off four straight goals to take a 4-3 lead midway through the third stanza, eventually taking the Friday night contest 5-4.
In the second game of the series Brice Geoffrion made an early impact – for all the wrong reasons – as he was called for a five-minute major for checking from behind allowing the Warriors to score two goals. Merrimack rounded out the scoring as Jesse Todd lit the lamp with only 18 seconds remaining in the first period.
It was all down hill from there for UAH as the Warriors pushed past two goals in the second period and two more in the third, cruising to a 7-0 victory – their fifth in a row.
Merrimack’s Joe Cannata (Wakefield, MA) turned aside 24 shots for his first shutout of the season and fifth of his career.
With a huge fan base, here’s to more NCAA hockey in Nashville.