Release courtesy of the University of New England Sports Information Department.
KINGSTON, R.I. – The third-seeded University of New England struck four times in the last 10 minutes of the opening period on the way to a 6-2 victory over top-seeded Salve Regina in the final of the 2019 Commonwealth Coast Conference (CCC) Men's Ice Hockey Championship on Saturday night at Boss Arena.
The Nor'easters (20-6-2) earn their first automatic bid into the NCAA Division III Championship, and will make a second straight appearance in the national tournament when play begins next Saturday. The 12-team field will be announced Monday morning (10:30 a.m.) on NCAA.com.
After falling behind early, UNE took control on goals 63 seconds apart by Jimmy Elser (Verbank, N.Y.) and Ryan Bloom (Northville, Mich.) (CCC 1st Team) just past the midway mark of the initial frame. Brendan Donohue (New Hope, Pa.) and Jeff Eppright (Barrington, N.J.) added power-play goals for a 4-1 lead after one period.
The Nor'easters were able to kill off a 5-on-3 Seahawks advantage in the second and then Bloom put in a short-handed score to extend the cushion to 5-1 through 40 minutes. Bloom now shares the national lead for goals during the penalty kill (5) -- part of the only team in Division III with double digits in short-handed tallies (13).
Tyler Seltenreich (Littleton, Colo.) added power-play goal in the third, temporarily giving SRU its largest deficit (5) of the season.
Brady Fleurent (Biddeford, Maine) (CCC Player of the Year) contributed three assists in the win. Bloom had two helpers to go with his pair of scores, which established a UNE single-season record at 21 goals. Ben Churchfield (Newcastle, England) (CCC 2nd Team) backstopped the result with 30 saves for the nation's 14th-ranked squad.
Blake Wojtala (Trenton, Mich.) (CCC Goaltender of the Year) had 45 stops for Salve Regina (18-7-2), which entered the day with the No.12 ranking in the country. The Seahawks received their goals from Kevin Clare (Chicago, Ill.) and Colin Clapton (Canton, Mass.).
(Games hosted by the higher seed)
Quarterfinals – Wednesday, Feb. 20
Semifinals – Saturday, Feb. 23
Finals – Saturday, March 2
#3 University of New England def. #1 Salve Regina, 6-2 | BOX
ABOUT THE COMMONWEALTH COAST CONFERENCE
The Commonwealth Coast Conference (CCC), founded in 1984, is an NCAA Division III athletic conference comprised of nine full member and one 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 administers championships in 18 intercollegiate sports.