By Michael Battista/@MichaelB_96
The University of Pennsylvania are the 2022 Colonial States College Hockey Conference champions! The Quakers won their first ever Colonial Cup in dominant fashion over four-time defending champion College of New Jersey, 6-2. A dominant second period and stellar goalie performance lifted the regular season champions to the title on Sunday afternoon at CURE Insurance Arena in Trenton, New Jersey.
As both cup champions and as the 13th ranked team in the Southeast Region, the Quakers have secured a spot in the regional tournament this coming weekend. The team will the #8 seed University of Kentucky on Friday at OhioHealth Chiller Ice Rink in Columbus, Ohio. This is UPenn’s second ever appearance in the regional tournament and first since 2006.
Sunday’s final was a rematch in multiple ways. The Quakers previously fell to TCNJ in the 2020 Colonial Cup final but that wasn’t it. Since their first appearance in the CSCHC playoffs in 2016, UPenn’s season had consistently ended at the sticks of their New Jersey rival. A total of five losses (four in the semifinals, one in the final) preceded Sunday’s clash. The win also made Penn the second team to win both the regular season and playoffs in the same year.
Head coach Scott Carmack said afterwards that his team did what they had to to keep TCNJ back. The Lions were held to 17 shots on goal through the first two periods and that allowed his players to take a foothold.
“I thought we carried the play through the game, limiting chances and rushes against (us),” he said. “I think we had over 40 shots (with) many missing the net throughout the game and finally started making them count in the second.”
Despite the scoreless first twenty minutes that might have been the most important period of the entire game. Both goalies, UPenn’s Xander Kostelnik and TCNJ’s Michael Bussanich, were critical in keeping their team’s scoreless. A combined 25 shots were on target during the period, including a spectacular left pad sprawling save by Kostelnik, as neither side looked as though it would budge.
It really should not have been a surprise though. Bussanich had the third highest save percentage in the conference this past season with TCNJ. Meanwhile, Kostelnik took home honors as The Colonial’s Best Goaltender for the 2021-22 season ahead of Saturday’s semifinal (Most wins, most minutes played, second most saves). Great goaltending was always going to be a factor between these two teams. The main question was which team would take advantage first?
Calvin Aliferov’s first goal five minutes into the second period, assisted by Anderson Blum and Matt Weinsier, got the Quakers started. As both teams changed lines, Weinsier trickled back into the offensive end on the left side. His quick pass to a charging Aliferov was challenged but the Medford, NJ native batted the loose puck in. When Aliferov doubled the lead off a rebound around the 12 minute mark, the tempo shifted completely. Any time the Lions looked as though they were coming together, UPenn would take back the momentum.
The visitor’s chances on net became more infrequent. Meanwhile Spencer Tuohy and team leading scorer Will Torgerson added on goals in the final five minutes of the period.
That didn’t mean goalie Kostelnik had an easy night for the Quakers from that point on. In the third, his team’s offense slowed while the Lions fought back. Andrew Summa and Logan Viducic both scored within one minute of each other with under ten minutes to play, cutting the deficit in half. It seemed like whichever team scored next was going to win the trophy and in that moment Ethan Cohen seized momentum from the defendings champs. Taking advantage of a defender with a broken stick with just over seven minutes to play, Andrew Lane pulled Bussanich off his line allowing Cohen to slip the shot in from the left side into a near open net.
Aliferov netted his third of the game at 16:52 for the hat-trick and the final flourish for his team. Carmack named him playoff Most Valuable Player for his work on the night and the weekend as a whole.
As the best team from the Liberty Division in the regular season, the Quakers started the weekend off with a Quarterfinal bye on Friday as the playoff’s top seed. The next day, the team downed fourth seed Stockton University in the semifinals, 6-1. Despite outshooting the Ospreys (29-17 on net) UPenn only held a 2-0 lead heading into the third period. Connor Blend and Aliferov both scored for their team in respective periods. However, goalie Michael Corella kept Stockton competitive through 40 minutes.
The third period saw the wheels come off on the effort however. Just over eight minutes in, Matt Weinsier setup Cohen to make it 3-0. From there Stockton pulled Corella out of the net for Ben Sheehan though it did little to stop the momentum. Hayden Stephan and Alex Beckert notched in scores to further seal the result. Stockton managed one goal at the 17 minute mark thanks to Matt Flynn, assisted by Mickenzie Restle, before Cohen knocked in an empty netter with seconds to spare.
For their efforts, the Lions’ defeat in the championship game did not come without an honor. By reaching it’s sixth straight Colonial Cup Final, TCNJ tied the record for most consecutive conference final appearances by teams in a current ACHA Southeast Region conference. The team ties Wagner College (MACH, 2004-2009), which also won four of the six titles games that it played in.
Colonial Cup Playoff Results
Quarterfinals – Friday, Feb 18th
(3) The College of New Jersey  vs (6) University of Scranton 
(2) Millersville University  vs (7) Seton Hall University  (Overtime)
(4) Stockton University  vs (5) Bryn Athyn College 
Semifinals – Saturday, Feb 19th
(1) University of Pennsylvania  vs (4) Stockton University 
(2) Millersville University  vs (3) The College of New Jersey 
Championship Game – Sunday, Feb 20th
(1) University of Pennsylvania  vs (3) The College of New Jersey 
2021-22 CSCHC Honors
Most Valuable Player: Zachary Pamaylaon – Bryn Athyn College; 62 points
Best Goaltender: Xander Kostelnik – University of Pennsylvania; Most Wins, Most Minutes, 2nd Most Saves, 3rd Best GAA, 4th Best Save %.
Best Defenseman: Cameron Toussaint – Seton Hall University; led all defenseman in league scoring, tied for 5th overall in league scoring, led Seton Hall in scoring.
Coach of the Year: To Be Announced