Posted: Mar 17, 2018
GENESEO, N.Y. -- Justin Grillo's miracle goal for the Colby College men's hockey team has the Mules heading to the site of the Miracle on Ice of 1980.
Grillo (pictured right) scored with 1.6 seconds remaining in regulation to break a 1-1 tie and give the Mules a stunning 2-1 victory over third-ranked SUNY Geneseo on Saturday in an NCAA quarterfinal game.
"I cannot ever remember being a part of a last-second victory like that. Remember a late loss though," said Blaise MacDonald, the Jack Kelley Head Coach for Colby Men's Hockey. "The guys played it out and that is to their credit. Honestly, I was thinking of what I was going to say to the team before the overtime. It felt amazing to watch the guys celebrate."
The Colby College men's hockey team beat the odds again and are headed to the Frozen Four of the NCAA Division III Tournament at Lake Placid next weekend. Colby will play St. Norbert College in a national semifinal on Friday at Herb Brooks Arena at 6:30 p.m. Salve Regina and Wisconsin-Stevens Point will play in the other game at 3 p.m. The championship game is set for Saturday at 7 p.m.
Colby, in its fifth straight weekend on the road, earned its second straight NCAA victory and a fifth straight playoff win. Not only were the Mules handling another weekend on the road, but the Knights were unbeaten (12-0-1) at home this season.
"We're going to the Frozen Four and we couldn't be happier," Colby goaltender Sean Lawrence said. "We embrace the challenge of road hockey and I think we’ve proved we can play in any building."
Thomas Stahlhuth had the opening goal of the game from Grillo and Michael Rudolf. Grillo's game-winning score came from Stahlhuth and Cam MacDonald.
* Arguably the biggest goal in Colby men's hockey history almost did not happen. Geneseo had possession in Colby's end and it appeared that the Mules would not get another offensive chance. A Geneseo defenseman on the blue line gave away a puck in the middle of the ice and the Mules quickly went to work. MacDonald pushed a short pass to a streaking Stahlhuth, who ripped a shot that was blocked. Grillo was coming in hard behind and his one-timer wrist shot found the back of the net.
"Cam bumped the pass to me and I knew the time was running out," Stahlhuth said. "My initial thought was just to get a shot through, but it got blocked and we just had some great puck luck with Justin being behind me. The rest is history."
Grillo came on the ice with a minute left and exploded out of the Colby zone with the rest of his teammates.
"Thomas crossed the blue line and took a shot that was blocked into a defender's shin pad," Grillo said. "I trailed Thomas and was luckily in the right place at the right time. I shot the puck quickly short side low into a space where I thought wouldn't be blocked."
* Geneseo's lone goal came on a two-man advantage when Colby took penalties at 7:40 and 8:04. Arthur Gordon scored at 8:18 to tie the game at 1-1.
* Colby's first goal came on more nice transition out of its own zone. Michael Rudolf sent Grillo on his way with a nice pass. Grillo did a good job of creating some space and had the option to shoot or pass. He elected to go across to Stahlhuth (pictured left), who once again was skating hard and tipped the puck past goalie Devin McDonald.
"I thought he would shoot since (Grillo) has an unbelievable release," Stahlhuth said. "I figured I was more of a distraction. But he threw it my way and we got a lucky bounce again."
By the numbers
* The Mules improved to 17-10-2 after being 10-10 overall at one point. Colby is now unbeaten in the last nine games at 7-0-2. Geneseo ended its season at 20-6-3.
* Lawrence was once again spectacular with 38 saves. He made 17 saves in the third period when the Knights had a 18-4 shot advantage. Lawrence has allowed just six goals in five playoff games and only 11 goals in the current nine-game unbeaten streak.
"I was just trying to do whatever I could to keep the game close because I knew the boys were going to get it done at the other end and they did," Lawrence said.
* Salve Regina took a 4-3 win over Nichols, while Stevens Point skated to a 5-2 win against Adrian in the other quarterfinals.