Game #1 - Alabama 6, West Virginia 3
The Alabama Hockey Club opened up their season and tenure in ACHA Division I Friday, September 11th in Morgantown, WV, as they took on the West Virginia Mountaineers. There was a lot of uncertainty about the move to D-1, but Alabama came out like a team that wanted to prove something.
The game started out as a hard-hitting, fast-paced matchup, and West Virginia had the upper hand both physically and on the scoreboard. With only 5:32 off the board in the first period, WVU opened up the scoring as JP Sawyer tipped a shot from Brennan Adams past the Alabama goaltender, Jack Safford. That lead wouldn’t last too long as Alabama got on the scoreboard with 10:01 left in the first with a goal from Jon Lovorn, assisted by Andre Morard. Alabama would then take the lead four minutes later as Jake Collins scored on a rebound opportunity off of a Nick Price slap shot from the point. Everything was going Alabama’s way, until WVU tied the game with just eight seconds left in the first period, when Riley Horvath scored on a five on three opportunity for the Mountaineers. The score was tied 2-2 at the end of period one.
The second period would prove to be another back and forth period as both teams were able to put up goals. Alabama opened the scoring on a Jake Collins goal, his second of the game. Collins carried the puck through the neutral zone, took a shot on WVU goalie, Ian Donnan, and followed up his shot to burry the rebound. The goal was credited to Dylan Teed due to an off ice scoring error. WVU answered four minutes later to tie the game, as Eric Keefe scored on a breakaway off of an Alabama turnover and a bad change from all five players on the ice. Alabama answered again, when Jake Collins completed the hat trick. There was chaos in front of the net, which led to a flurry of chances for Alabama and culminated with Collins cleaning it up in front of the net. Alabama now had a 4-3 lead late in period two.
Alabama’s 4-3 lead would hold through the whole third period, and then off of a goal from Andre Morard, assisted by Jon Lovorn, Alabama would take a 5-3 lead with less than five minutes to play. Jon Lovorn added an empty net goal to seal the win for Alabama, their first at the ACHA Division I level.
In Alabama’s 6-3 win over West Virginia, the team played very hard and matched the physical play of WVU. The win was brought because of an all-around team effort. Jake Collins scored a hat trick and Jon Lovorn scored two of his own, but the rest of the team was vital in bringing Alabama the victory. The defense was very good, but the team did not do a great job of staying out of the penalty box, racking up 14 penalty minutes. The player of the game was Jack Safford, giving up only three goals on 41 shots, making 38 saves. The three goals WVU were able to score were not at the fault of Safford, but two were because of defensive breakdowns and one coming off a deflected shot. With the win, Safford stays undefeated in his Alabama Hockey career. The Alabama team as a whole was extremely impressive in their opening game of the 2015-2016 season.