FRISCO, Texas - No. 4 Marian University ACHA Division II hockey (29-6-2, 15-0-1 NCHL) saw their first trip to the ACHA National Tournament end in pool play as the Sabres dropped three tight games.
Marian opened pool play against the defending national champion and top-seed Florida Gulf Coast out of the Southeast region. The meeting was the third time the two squads faced each other with Florida Gulf Coast defeating Marian twice to close out the regular season. The first period saw no scoring before Marian lit the lamp to open the scoring 13:59 into the second period courtesy of Bryton Tomko. The Eagles bounced back, however, scoring a pair of goals in a span of nine seconds to take a 2-1 advantage into the final period. Florida Gulf Coast would score once more in the final period to earn a 3-1 victory.
The Sabres were outshot 37-24 for the game with Justin Davidson making 34 saves in the defeat.
The Sabres then took on New Hampshire, the second seed out of the Northeast region, with Marian dropping a one-goal game. The Wildcats found the back of the net for the lone first-period goal before Tyren Boots opened the second period scoring with an assist to Brandon Mills. UNH once again took the lead just 25 seconds later but Paul Kinder would light the lamp on the power play, assist to Mills and Jake Weldon to tie the game at 2-2.
New Hampshire once again didn't let the lead last long as UNH scored 43 seconds later to retake the lead and added another goal to lead 4-2 after two periods. Marian was able to make things interesting with Dan Roe lighting the lamp 9:13 into the third period, but the Sabres were unable to find another goal in the 4-3 loss.
Marian was once again outshot in the game but only by a margin of 42-38 with Davidson once again making a strong 38 saves.
The finale of pool play saw Marian lead late against Utah State, the third seed out of the West region, but the Aggies were able to force overtime and knock off the Sabres. Marian scored the first three goals of the game with Kinder scoring once again with an assist to Roe in the first period. Weldon then opened the second period with a shorthanded goal, assist to Kinder, before another special teams goal saw Kinder score on a power play, assist to Weldon.
The Aggies responded with a power play goal and even strength goal to cut their deficit down to 3-2 heading into the final period. With an empty net on the other end, Utah State was able to force overtime with just eight seconds remaining in the game. Utah State then completed the comeback scoring 4:13 into overtime.
Davidson added 26 saves as Marian outshot Utah State 44-30 in the defeat.
The 2018-19 Marian ACHA Division II hockey season, the third in program history, saw the Sabres set a program record for wins in a single season, earn their second conference championship after posting an unbeaten season, and win their second Hap Cup championship along with qualifying for the National Tournament for the first time in program history.