BEVERLY, Mass. – Endicott's Cam Bleck (Lake Forrest, Ill.) scored with 8.7 seconds remaining in regulation to lift the Gulls to the inaugural Commonwealth Coast Conference (CCC) Men's Ice Hockey Championship on Saturday night, 5-4, at Raymond J. Bourque Arena.
The championship game featured the two highest scoring offenses in the CCC, top-seeded Gulls and the No. 5 seed University of New England. The teams lived up to their reputations as they traded goals for the entire contest concluding with the Bleck's game-winning tally.
As the 2017 CCC Men's Ice Hockey Tournament Champions, the Gulls earn the conference's first automatic qualifier in the NCAA Division III Men's Ice Hockey Championship. They will learn their First Round opponent during the NCAA.com selection show on Monday, March 6 at 10:30 a.m.
#1 Endicott 5, #5 University of New England 4
BEVERLY, Mass. – Endicott sophomore forward Cam Bleck (Lake Forest, Ill.) sniped a wrister into the top right corner of the net with 8.7-seconds remaining in regulation to lift the top-seeded Gulls past fifth-seeded University of New England (UNE) by a 5-4 score in the inaugural Commonwealth Coast Conference (CCC) Men's Ice Hockey Championship on Saturday night at Raymond J. Bourque Arena.
With the win, No. 7/9 nationally ranked Endicott (23-3-2) has earned the CCC's automatic berth into the NCAA Division III Championship. The Gulls will learn who their first round opponent is on Monday, March 6 at 10:30 AM via the NCAA.com selection show. Meanwhile, with the loss, UNE's season comes to a close at 15-10-2.
Saturday's inaugural CCC championship went back-and-forth from the very beginning as both teams exchanged goals all the way up until Bleck's game-winner with 8.7-seconds to play in the contest.
Gulls' freshman forward Brendan Shane (Rochester, N.Y.) opened up the scoring with his third tally of the season on a one-timer from the slot at 2:29 of the first period, while Ryan Bloom (Northville, Mich.) eventually answered for the Nor'easters at 12:26. The two team's then alternated goals once again in the stanza as Joseph Slovak (South Yarmouth, Mass.) made it 2-1 at 14:23 and Tucker Ross (Ashburn, Va.) found the equalizer at 18:29.
The same story line repeated itself in the second as Jack Musil (Hull, England) scored for Endicott at 12:58 before Danny Antonoff (Bedford, Mass.) stymied the Gulls' momentum less than five minutes later (16:49) to even the score at 3-3 headed into the break.
In the third, Bleck put Endicott ahead in quick fashion with his 20th of the season at the 3:52 mark, but a diving redirection goal near the left post by Dylan Bengston (Coral Springs, Fla.) at 11:52 set up Bleck's heroics in the final moments of the matchup.
BEYOND THE BOX SCORE
- The all-time series is now tied at 1-1-1 after today's result.
- Kevin Aldridge (Birmingham, Mich.) made 24 saves in the win (20-3-2).
- Endicott extended its winning streak to 11 straight games.
- The Gulls avenged an earlier loss to UNE this season at home that saw the Nor'easters score with 3.3-seconds left in overtime.
- Frank Spellman (Des Moines, Iowa), Jason Kalinowski (Stamford, Conn.), John Carricato (Ridge, N.Y.), and Tommy Besinger (Milton, Mass.) all had two assists each in the victory.
FOR THE FOES
- UNE's No. 1 nationally ranked power play did not disappoint as the Nor'easters went 2-for-2 with the man-advantage.
- The Nor'easters also held Endicott – who is ranked No. 2 in the country on the power play – to an 0-for-4 showing on the night.
- Antonoff led UNE with a three-point night (one goal, two assists).
- Payton Porter (Houlton, Maine) stopped a game-high 44 shots in the loss (5-1-0).
Game recap courtesy of the Endicott Sports Information Department.
(Games hosted by the higher seed)
Quarterfinals – Saturday, Feb. 25
Semifinals – Wednesday, March 1
Finals – Saturday, March 4
#1 Endicott def. #5 University of New England, 5-4 | BOX
ABOUT THE COMMONWEALTH COAST CONFERENCE
The Commonwealth Coast Conference (CCC), founded in 1984, is an NCAA Division III athletic conference comprised of ten full member and three associate member institutions throughout the New England region. Its membership aims to provide student-athletes with a positive experience in their pursuit of excellence through high academic standards, quality competition, and a meaningful student life. The conference currently administers championships in 16 intercollegiate sports with that number set to increase next year with the addition of football.