ACHA D2 National Tournament in San Jose Day 1: SJ goaltender Alessandro Mullane stops 48 shots in losing effort, Florida Gulf Coast downs SJSU 3-2 in OT

By Jon Swenson - Last updated: Wednesday, March 16, 2011 - Save & Share - Leave a Comment

San Jose State goaltender Alessandro Mullane made 48 saves against Florida Gulf Coast University in loss at ACHA D2 National Tournmanet

Florida Gulf Coast University celebrates OT win over SJSU

Florida Gulf Coast University goaltender Ryan Lynch first period glove save ACHA D2 National Tournament

The ‘Group of Death’ of the 2011 ACHA D2 National Championship in San Jose has to be pool A with Grand Valley State (19-10-1), William Paterson (25-6-0), perennial West powerhouse Colorado State (22-15-2) and Temple (20-12-0). That being said, the host San Jose State quad faced off against the ACHA bracket’s most difficult squad in Florida Gulf Coast University in the Tuesday night featured game. The southwest Florida school was the top team in the ACHA this year, registering a 36-2 record this season. Talented offensively from top to bottom, they have 10 players who scored 15 or more goals this season.

That record was immediately backed up by FGCU’s play on the ice. Although San Jose State had drawn a few hundred supporters and several members of the student band, Florida’s play on the ice was probably the most structured of any of the participating ACHA teams. Noticeable on the breakout, FGCU would spread 5 players wide in the defensive zone. A quick series of short passes would move the puck up the halfwall on one side of the ice, while the weak side forward would skate in with speed to break through the neutral zone. It happened over, and over, and over again. It was effective early. San Jose State was scrambling somewhat when Florida scored a power play goal 7:16 in.

The Spartans started to lose the jitters and get into the game more as the period progressed. The turning point of the game may have come with San Jose native Kyle Dutra’s power play goal later in the first. Instead of letting Florida pull away, SJSU had clawed back into the game and started playing with more confidence. Florida kept grinding, and they added their second goal of the period at 17:49 by Kelly Johnson.

Penalties were a concern for San Jose. After taking 3 in the first period, they were called for 3 more in the second. Shorthanded, Spartan winger James Lopez broke up a play in front of his own net on one side of the ice, then nearly capitalized on a rush on the other side. His shot missed the net high. Defenseman Neil Schumaker also made a spectacular poke check to break up a scoring chance on a subsequent penalty kill. Despite the parade to the penalty box, San Jose State capitalized on their man advantage at 12:29. Los Gatos native Mickey Rhodes tied the game at 2-2, assisted by Sam Cimino and Andy Dickerson. It was the second power play goal of the game for SJSU. The 6-foot-4, 210-pound Rhodes had a monster of a second period, registering an assist, breaking up an odd man rush, and plowing a Florida forward into the boards with a huge check. A much smaller Salvatore Barranco made an impact as well, targeting Gianfranco Richter at the blueline and then upending him with a hit.

Florida had settled down in the second, but was still dangerous. After a shot rang off the post, SJSU goaltender Alessandro Mullane was forced to make a series of saves at the end of the period to keep the game tied. Mullane made two quick reaction saves down low, and then later on the next shift he made a glove save up high. Three of the best Florida Gulf Coast scoring chance opportunities of the game came in those final two minutes.

The game was tense in the third period, but San Jose State kept up the physical play. Czech native Nicholas Matejovsky laid out Kelly Johnson with a pancake hit that drew a loud reaction from the crowd. Goaltender Alessandro Mullane was forced to make a few sweeping saves of the puck low, but he was getting better as the game progressed. He plays bigger than his 5-foot-11, 180-pound frame, has a good glove hand, and he gets down quickly and covers a lot of the net down low. It was needed as FGCU outshot SJSU 14-7 in the third.

After impassioned speeches by both team’s coaches during the brief intermission, San Jose State assistant coach Ian Fazzi told his side that someone needed to step up and win the game, the action picked up in overtime right where it left off in the third period. It was a tight checking affair. With only 1:47 off the clock, Justin Acquino shot a seeing eye puck that found its way into the back of the net. The Florida Gulf Coast team mobbed him along the glass. “It was just a bad bounce off of my skate, and I couldn’t recover to get back to the guy before he went to the net,” center Andy Dickerson told Daniel Herberholz of the Spartan Daily after the game. Mullane also described the play to the student paper. “(Aquino) was just wide open and made a nice move and put it crossbar and down.”

With the loss the Spartans are tied with Montclair State for third place in pool C. The host squad was able to keep the goal differential down. Tonight’s 8PM contest against Michigan State will be a big one for SJSU. Spartan on Spartan. San Jose can not allow another 51 shots on goal. They need to get the puck deep, force Michigan State to play the full 200 feet of the ice surface, and then capitalize on mistakes later in the game. Getting the puck deep is more important than contact, more important than the big hit. Goaltender Alessandro Mullane should give them an opportunity to win if they can keep it tight.

A small black and white photo gallery from the game is available here. Free streams of live action, and paid archives of past games are available via

[Update] Spartans lose tournament opener in overtime – Spartan Daily.

[Update2] Club hockey: FGCU beats San Jose State in ACHA Division II tournament – Naples Daily News.

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