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ECC freshman storms out of penalty box, assaults ref in hockey championship

Erie Community College’s men’s hockey season ended on a sour note in more ways than one on Sunday in Binghamton.

Dakota College of Bottineau (N.D.) came out of a 4-4 tie for three third-period goals and defeated the Kats, 7-4, in the championship game of the National Junior College Athletic Association championship game hosted by Broome Community College.

After a brief scuffle in the final minute of the game, ECC’s Brandon Day, a freshman defenseman from West Seneca, stormed out of the penalty box onto the ice and leveled the referee who had broken up the fight. The remaining 39 seconds of the game were called off while the referee was attended to.

Video of the incident has been widely shared via a Sports Illustrated tweet; the video was also included on ESPN's Sportscenter Sunday night.

Day, 19, faces several charges and may face additional charges as the investigation remains open, said SUNY Broome Community College Public Safety Chief Joe O'Connor.

Day was charged with fourth-degree criminal mischief, a misdemeanor, and two violations: second-degree harassment and disorderly conduct, O'Connor said. He is due in Dickinson Town Court on March 21.

In a written statement issued Monday, school officials apologized for what they described as "the inexcusable on-ice incident."

“The act of one player is in no way indicative of our mission as an educational institution, and it does not personify the cordiality and dedication to service instilled in our student body," college President Jack Quinn said in a written statement. "We regret that this instance marred an otherwise thrilling game between our student athletes and those of Dakota College of Bottineau, and we will handle this situation with all appropriate disciplinary actions.”

College Athletic Director Peter Jerebko said the athletic department "deeply regrets" what happened and called Day's actions "completely unacceptable, and it will not be tolerated within our athletic program."

“Our hockey program is one of great sportsmanship both on and off the ice, but last night’s incident was not indicative of that tradition. It was the act of a single individual who, today, is deeply remorseful, and is in the process of reaching out to both host Broome County Community College and the game’s official," Jerebko said in a statement. "We join him in this remorse, and extend it to the National Junior College Athletic Association, BCCC, champions Dakota College of Bottineau, and the game’s entire officiating crew."

ECC had battled back from a two-goal deficit to tie the game in the second period before losing what is the last NJCAA championship game in men’s ice hockey. The organization had announced that it was dropping sponsorship of a national championship because of the lack of participation by its member schools.

The Kats scored first on a power-play goal by Brendan McFall at 1:39.  Dakota scored three unanswered and led 3-1 before Anthony Cybulski scored for the Kats 6:09 left in the opening period.

Nial Mills gave Dakota a 4-2 with a power play goal at 8:38 of the second but Taiki Satoh scored for ECC at 10:04 and McFall’s second of the game tied it with 5:52 left in the second.

Andrew Carriere’s goal at 6:15 of the third put Dakota in front to stay. A goal by Charles Joly and an empty-net power-play tally by Harrison Aide with 39 seconds left finished the Kats, who ended the season with a 21-5-1 record.

ECC was assessed 40 minutes in penalties in the game, including a 10-minute unsportsmanlike conduct penalty against Ryan Piniewski of the Kats and the 10-minute game misconduct against Day for abuse of officials. That incident occurred while Luke Meyer of ECC and Reed Link of Dakota were involved in a scuffle for which each received roughing minors. Dakota was assessed 18 minutes in penalties in the game for nine minor infractions.

It was the 10th NJCAA title for Bottineau, which also defeated ECC in last year’s championship game in Binghamton, 4-3, in overtime. ECC won the title in 2015.

McFall, Christian Nati and Michael Krause of ECC made the all-tournament.

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