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ACHA Hockey | Cal (Pa.) wins national title 3-17

By Jason Feldman

jfeldman@postbulletin.com

A year ago at this time, Tim Johnson felt as though he let down his coaches, teammates and pretty much every fan of the California University (Pa.) men’s hockey team.

Saturday, he walked out of the Rochester Recreation Center clutching two awards — one quite a bit more important to him than the other.

Johnson happily accepting the trophy for being named the MVP of the ACHA Division 3 national tournament. But after looking at it for a few seconds he skated to the bench and set it down.

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His other award — a gold medal like the rest of his teammates were wearing — still hung around his neck. That’s the one Johnson really wanted, because it meant Cal was leaving Rochester as the national champion.

Johnson stopped 43 shots Saturday to lead the Vulcans to a 7-3 victory over San Diego State in the national title game.

It’s the Vulcans first national championship, and it comes a year after they took the No. 1 seed into the national tournament, only to place 15th. Johnson, in his own words, had a terrible tournament in 2007.

Not this time.

"This is unbelievable," Johnson said. "Last year I felt horrible for the whole team, the coaches and all of the players’ parents. But this (the MVP award) wasn’t just me. This was a team effort."

Maybe so, but Johnson’s teammates were all in favor of him being named the tournament MVP. Though he surrendered a total of eight goals over the Vulcans final two tournament games, Johnson stopped a total of 89 shots (a .918 save percentage).

"This year he played a phenomenal tournament," Cal forward Dan Tonini said. "He stood on his head. We wouldn’t be here if not for him."

Tonini could have just as well earned the MVP award, even though he was left off the all-tournament team.

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The sophomore forward from New Eagle, Pa., had two goals and three assists in Saturday’s championship game, a night after he scored twice and had one assist in a semifinal victory over Northern Colorado.

Tonini also keyed a Cal power play that put up head-spinning numbers during the national tournament. The Vulcans were 15-for-29 (51.8 percent) with a man advantage over their four tournament games. They were 2-for-6 against SDSU.

"We have practiced it a lot," Tonini said. "One of our goals each game is to win the special teams battle."

Johnson said he loves it when Cal goes on a power play because he won’t see a lot of action in his end.

"I see it every day in practice," Johnson said. "I know what our forwards can do; they don’t miss chances. When we’re on a power play, I’m glad I’m not at the other end of the ice."

Ryan Jones also scored twice for Cal, while Anthony Battista (short-handed), Matt Ward and David Kovachick scored once each.

Kolin Ozonian, Nigel Schroeder and Ben Nicoll scored for SDSU, which outshot Cal 46-33. It was SDSU’s first ever appearance in the national championship game.

Cal (Pa.) 7, San Diego St. 3

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First period — 1. CAL, Anthony Battista (unassisted) 18:10 (sh).

Second period — 2. CAL, Ryan Jones (Dan Tonini, Matt Warco) 10:32 (pp). 3. SDSU, Kolin Ozonian (Jeff Vicencio, Bobby Finley) 11:50. 4. CAL, Tonini (Jones, Jim Girvin) 14:36 (pp).

Third period — 5. CAL, Matt Ward (BJ DePaoli, Tonini) :26. 6. CAL, Tonini (Ward) 2:52. 7. CAL, David Kovachick (DePaoli) 6:51. 8. SDSU, Nigel Schroeder (unassisted) 8:34. 9. CAL, Jones (Tonini) 10:31. 10. SDSU, Ben Nicoll (Alec Nadelle, Kevin Kostick) 12:51 (pp).

Shots on goal — SDSU, 15-10-21—46; Cal, 8-12-13—33. Goalies — SDSU, Jacob Kalmonson (33 shots, 26 saves); Cal, Tim Johnson (46 shots, 43 saves).

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