BIDDEFORD, Maine – Senior captain Scott Cuthrell (Waterford, Mich.) picked up two goals and an assist as the No. 5 seed Nichols College men's hockey team won its third conference championship in five years with an 8-3 win at No. 3 seed University of New England Saturday night in the Commonwealth Coast Conference (CCC) Championship at Harold Alfond Forum.
The Bison – who won the Eastern College Athletic Conference (ECAC) Northeast crown in 2013-14 and 2014-15 – now advance to the NCAA Tournament for the third time in five seasons and first under third-year head coach Parker Burgess. The Nor'easters (20-5-3) entered the game No. 4 in this week's USCHO Division III rankings and became the third top five team to fall victim to NC this season; the Bison previously defeated then-No. 2 Endicott (6-1 on Jan. 19) and then-No. 4 Salve Regina (5-4 on Feb. 24).
Sophomore Filip Virgili (Malmo, Sweden) collected three points on two goals and an assist, sophomore Hogan Davidson (Duluth, Minn.) had a pair of helpers, and senior Chris Deming (Madison, Ala.), along with sophomores J.B. Baker (Columbia, Md.), Nicholas Mangone (Massapequa Park, N.Y.), and Vincent Crivello (Rosemere, Quebec), all found the back of the net in the blowout. At the other end of the ice, senior netminder Colin Brennan (Chester, N.J.) made 36 saves – including 18 in the third period – to record his 11th win of the season.
The Nor'easters were tagged for eight goals for the second time this season (vs. Salve Regina, Nov. 17) and will now wait and see if they receive an at-large selection into the NCAA Tournament. Junior Brady Fleurent (Biddeford, Maine) had a goal and an assist for UNE while sophomore Dimitris Jones (Seattle, Wash.) and freshman Tyler Seltenreich (Littleton, Colo.) beat Brennan. Freshman goaltender Ben Churchfield (Newcastle, England) was tagged for five goals on 17 shots and was chased from the net in the second period in favor of sophomore Tate Sproxton (Surrey, British Columbia), who surrendered two goals on 16 shots.
Crivello opened the scoring just 48 seconds into the contest with a sharp-angle shot from the goal line that snuck behind Churchfield. Seltenreich tied the game at one with a tap-in past Brennan at 8:15 of the first before Deming's wrister from the right circle beat Churchfield over the glove hand on the power-play less than four minutes later.
Nichols took control of the game in the second, scoring three times in a span of 1:37 to open up a 5-1 lead. Cuthrell scored his first of the night at 5:57 from in close before a point shot from sophomore David Chevrier (Baie-D'Urfe, Quebec) deflected off Cuthrell and into the net at 7:10. Less than 30 seconds later, Baker polished off a 2-on-1 with Cuthrell with a forehand deke goal to extend the lead to 5-1 at 7:34.
Jones' fourth marker of the campaign at 11:39 made it a 5-2 game after two periods of play before Fleurent's 22nd goal of the season 6:10 into the third brought the Nor'easters to within two at 5-3 and woke up the UNE faithful. Virgili quickly silenced the fans with a rebound goal less than two minutes after Fleurent's marker, and Mangone all but sealed the win with a short-handed breakaway goal at 10:34, beating Sproxton through the legs with a wrister. Virgili's empty-netter at 17:45 capped the scoring.
UNE outshot the Bison 39-34 and went 1-for-4 with the man advantage. Nichols converted on one of its three chances with the extra attacker.
Tonight's contest marked the fifth all-time meeting between Nichols College and the University of New England. The series is now tied at 2-2-1; the win was the first for the Bison in three trips to Harold Alfond Forum.
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 def. #3 University of New England, 8-3 | 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 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.