The Washington & Jefferson College men's hockey team went to the Ice Zone in Youngstown, Ohio, last weekend setting out to exact a little revenge.
They came back with a championship.
The Presidents won College Hockey Mid-America Association title. The league comprises club teams from Tri-State Area colleges.
"It was a great, great feeling to win the league championship," said sophomore forward Ryne Savisky, a West Allegheny graduate and the team's leading scorer. "It was kind of a rough year in that we didn't end up making it to nationals, but we did get to play Duquesne and West Virginia and win both, so we're real happy right now."
Washington & Jefferson defeated Duquesne -- a team it had lost to in the inaugural CHMA title game last season and also dropped one of two contests to the Dukes earlier this season. The Presidents topped the Dukes in the semifinals, 7-5, on Feb 23.
The next day, the Presidents upset West Virginia, the regular-season league champion, 5-3.
WVU was undefeated in CHMA play, ranked No. 14 in the national American Collegiate Hockey Association's club team rankings and had defeated W&J twice during the regular season.
"We got our vengeance by beating Duquesne and then we were able to knock off an undefeated team, so it was a very good weekend for us," said Craig Frey, team captain and CHMA tournament most valuable player.
Members of the CHMA also include Pitt, Slippery Rock, IUP, Youngstown State and John Carroll.
The Presidents completed their regular season with a 22-12 record with one overtime loss and were 10-4 in CHMA league games.
West Virginia will play in the ACHA national tournament because the league's automatic berth goes to the regular-season champion. W&J's season is complete.
"The main goal of the organization is to go to nationals and win nationals, but when [achieving] that became out of the question, it definitely was a major accomplishment [to win the league tournament title] for us that we've been shooting at all year," Frey said.
"It's a competitive league with some very good teams in it, so it's very nice to end up winning it."
The two previous games with West Virginia this season were tight, both ending in two-goal margins, although one was an empty-net goal. In the CHMA final, the play was so physical that, for example, Washington & Jefferson was assessed two 10-minute misconducts and a 5-minute major.
"It is definitely a rivalry, especially with us being so close to each other," Frey said. "It was a very physical game. I didn't feel as if misconducts [were necessary] ... But I do think it definitely was a physical game, which is a result of both teams holding a little hatred for each other."
Senior defensemen Clint Lang and Dave Bean served as alternate captains, with Lang posting three assists against WVU.
Despite missing five games due to injury, Frey was third on the team with 38 points.
"This is special for all the seniors to go out with this," Savisky said. "Craig was a very vocal leader on the ice. He, as well as the other seniors, really came through for us. He made everyone better with how he did on and off the ice for us this year."
He skated on a line with some combination of Upper St. Clair's Dave Crockett, Elizabeth native Brian Doak and Boris Gezzer.
The team's most prolific line was Savisky and juniors Mario Panucci and Chad Talotta, both of whom went to Montour High School. They were three of the team's top four scorers, combining for 46 goals and 72 assists.
"Ryne is one of our top players," Frey said. "He's sort of the guy we looked to on the power play. He could put pucks away when he needed to.
"I won the MVP [for the tournament], but I feel as if he was the MVP of our team."