No. 16 Lehigh Bests No. 13 Bucknell to Win Patriot Crown

Final shots were 35-32 in favor of Lehigh while groundballs were 30-25 Mountain Hawks. Lehigh won 10 of 19 faceoffs, led by 7 of 13 from Buttenbaum. The Bison were 2 for 5 on the extra man while Lehigh was 1 for 2.

The Mountain Hawks will return to the NCAA Tournament for a second straight season and will learn their fate during next Sunday's NCAA Selection Show.

“It's been our goal to get to this point all season long,” said Cassese. “Last year, I felt like our mission and our goals ended with the Patriot League Championship. This year, we're certainly focused on the Patriot League Championship and happy to win it, but we do have our sights set on something a little bit higher this year. We're excited to be in the NCAA Tournament, but we're not just happy to be there.”

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BETHLEHEM, Pa. – Lehigh parlayed some hot goaltending into a big early lead and defeated Bucknell 11-5 Sunday in the championship game of the Patriot League tournament. Chase Bailey scored twice for the Bison and joined teammates Jackson Place and David Dickson on the All-Tournament Team.

The Mountain Hawks claim the Patriot League's automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament for the second straight year, while the Bison will wait for the May 5 NCAA selection announcement to learn about an at-large berth. Bucknell seems to have an NCAA-worthy resume, with a 12-4 record, five wins over nationally ranked opponents and a top-10 RPI ranking entering the day.

Sean Doyle registered a goal and an assist and Dickson added to his school and league records with his 48th assist for the Bison. Dan Taylor, Dante Fantoni and David DiMaria all had five-point afternoons for Lehigh (12-4). Goalie Matt Poillon made five of his 10 saves in the first quarter as Lehigh took control early. Even though the shots were just 12-9 in favor of Lehigh, the Mountain Hawks outscored the Bison 5-0 in the opening 15 minutes. The two teams traded goals for the next three periods, but Bucknell just could not piece together any runs.

Bucknell had two great looks while the game was still scoreless, but Poillon robbed Bailey and Doyle from close range. Taylor then scored for the Mountain Hawks, who had everything going their way in the opening period. Fantoni and DiMaria followed Taylor's goal within the next two minutes to make it 3-0.

Bucknell thought they had a faceoff win but was called for a hold in the scrum, and that led to a Lehigh goal. Later in the quarter the Bison 10-man ride nearly forced a turnover, but Fantoni saved the ball from going out of bounds on the sideline, then broke in and found Taylor on the back side to make it 4-0. Brian Hess finished off the quarter by scoring on an outside shot right at the horn.

The Bison finally got on the board on an EMO at 10:32 of the second quarter. Bailey had already been turned aside twice from point-blank range, but this time he beat Poillon from in tight after a nice feed by Tom Black. DiMaria answered right back with an unassisted goal before Peter Burke scored with a low shot off a pass from Dickson, who has an assist in every game this year.

Patrick Corbett scored with 2:14 left in the half to give the Mountain Hawks a 7-2 lead at the break.

Fantoni opened the second-half scoring on the first possession, and the Mountain Hawks led by at least five goals the rest of the way.

Lehigh finished with a 35-32 shot advantage and led 30-25 in ground balls. Both teams committed 14 turnovers. The Bison were 19 for 21 on clears while the Mountain Hawks were 17 for 19. Bucknell was 3 for 5 with an extra man.

Ryan Gutowski went 9 for 18 on faceoffs and led the Bison with six ground balls. Place had four and Mike Huffner three.

The NCAA Tournament selection show will be Sunday, May 5 at 9:00 p.m. on ESPNU.

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