SPRINGFIELD, Mass. – No. 3 seed University of New England and No. 5 seed Nichols both went on the road to earn a win in the Commonwealth Coast Conference (CCC) Men's Ice Hockey Semifinals to set up a CCC Championship matchup between the Nor'easters and the Bison on Saturday, March 3 at 7 p.m.
No. 6/7 nationally-ranked UNE, which will host next Saturday's Championship, fell behind 1-0 in the second period to No. 2 seed Endicott, which is ranked No. 11/11 in the national polls. The Nor'easters would then score four unanswered goals to earn a spot in the CCC Championship.
Nichols started strong potting the first three goals of its contest with No. 1 seed Salve Regina, which currently holds a No. 4/4 national ranking. The Seahawks got one back towards the end of the second period setting the stage for an exciting final stanza. The Bison got the first goal of the period to re-establish a three goal lead. However, the relentless Seahawks battled back to tie the game at 4-4. With five minutes remaining in the period, Nichols took the lead back and held on for the victory.
The winner of next Saturday's Championship game will be named the CCC Tournament Champion will receive the conference's automatic qualifier into the 2018 NCAA Division III Men's Ice Hockey Championship.
#3 University of New England 4, #2 Endicott 1
BEVERLY, Mass. – The second-seeded Endicott men's ice hockey team fell to third-seeded University of New England (UNE), 4-1, in the Commonwealth Coast Conference (CCC) Tournament Semifinals on Saturday evening at Raymond J. Bourque Arena.
Tied 1-1 early in the third period, Jason Harmon (Limington, Maine) snuck a shot past Endicott goaltender Mark Specia (Ringwood, N.J.) from high atop the right face-off circle to give the Nor'easters a lead they never relinquished.
The Gulls did have their chances later in the period as UNE committed two penalties just 10-seconds apart (6:40 | 6:50) to give Endicott a 5-on-3 power play. However, Nor'easters' goaltender Ben Churchfield (Newcastle, England) stopped six shots and the defense blocked three more to withhold Endicott from finding the equalizer.
UNE eventually clinched a spot in the CCC Championship game near the conclusion of the period when Tyler Seltenreich (Littleton, Colo.) and Andrew Slotnick (Canterbury, Conn.) both potted empty netters at 19:19 and 19:39, respectively.
Churchfield (9-2-2) finished the contest with a career-high 54 saves, while Specia stopped 36 in the loss (11-3-1).
BEYOND THE BOX SCORE
- Daniel Kucerovy (Bethel Park, Pa.) gave Endicott a 1-0 lead with a short-handed tally at 13:59 of the second period. Kucerovy scored his team-leading 18th goal of the season by beating Churchfield high glove side after winning a puck battle and finishing on the break.
- Josh Bowes (Edmonton, Alberta) won a game-high 17 face-offs.
FOR THE FOES
- Brady Fleurent (Biddeford, Maine) evened up the game at 1-1 with a power play goal on feeds from Seltenreich and Ryan Bloom (Northville, Mich.).
- Fleurent's goal came from the left post after Seltenreich made a cross-ice pass from the right face-off circle.
- Churchfield's previous career-high in saves was 42 (1/6/18 vs. No. 12 Norwich, Win 1-0).
Game recap courtesy of the Endicott Sports Information Department.
#5 Nichols 5, #1 Salve Regina 4
PORTSMOUTH, R.I. – Freshman Oliver Arnberg (Nynashamn, Sweden) scored a pair of goals to lift the Nichols College men's ice hockey team past top-seeded Salve Regina 5-4 in Commonwealth Coast Conference (CCC) Semifinal action Saturday afternoon at Portsmouth Abbey Ice Rink.
Sophomore Hogan Davidson (Duluth, Minn.) scored the game-winning goal with 5:41 remaining in regulation, junior T.J. Roche (Northport, Vt.) handed out two assists, and senior goaltender Colin Brennan (Chester, N.J.) stopped 37 shots for the Bison, who now head to the conference championship game for the third time in five seasons, where they will meet No. 3 seeded University of New England. The win also marked their second over a top-five opponent this season, having previously knocked off then-No. 2 Endicott 6-1 in January.
After being blanked in both meetings with the Seahawks during the regular season, the Bison struck for a pair of first-period goals. Arnberg opened the scoring at 10:28, capitalizing on a SRU turnover to net his fifth of the season. Less than four minutes later, senior captain Scott Cuthrell (Waterford, Mich.) doubled the lead with his 10th of the season.
Nichols extended its lead to 3-0 on a goal from sophomore Nicholas Mangone (Massapequa Park, N.Y.) midway through the second. Freshman Paul Boutoussov (Dana Point, Calif.) got the Seahawks on the board with a goal at 15:19 of the second to close the scoring in the middle stanza with NC ahead 3-1.
Arnberg's second tally of the game 1:49 into the third pushed the Nichols' lead back to three at 4-1. Salve Regina responded with three goals in less than six minutes to even the score at four, the tying goal coming off the stick of freshman John McLean (North Andover, Mass.) at 11:47. Facing a heavy push from the SRU offense, the Bison withstood the onslaught and countered with a goal of their own, this one coming off the stick of Davidson. Freshman Filip Virgili (Malmo, Sweden) and Roche were credited with assists on the GWG.
Junior and CCC Goaltender of the Year Blake Wojtala (Trenton, Mich.) made 20 saves for Salve Regina, which will await to see if it will receive an at-large berth into the NCAA Tournament. Meanwhile, the winner of the Bison and Nor'easters tilt will receive the conference's automatic berth into the tournament.
Today's contest marks the 39th all-time meeting between Nichols College and Salve Regina University. With the win, the Bison are now 21-14-4 lifetime against the Seahawks, 5-3-3 in the last 11 meetings, and 2-1 in the playoffs over the last four years.
Game recap courtesy of the Nichols Sports Information Department.
(Games hosted by the higher seed)
Quarterfinals – Saturday, Feb. 17
Semifinals – Saturday, Feb. 24
Finals – Saturday, March 3
#5 Nichols at #3 University of New England, 7 p.m.
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 four 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.