SPRINGFIELD, Mass. – Top-seed Salve Regina and No. 3 seed University of New England both earned wins in the Commonwealth Coast Conference (CCC) Men's Ice Hockey Semifinals on Saturday night. The Championship game is scheduled for Saturday, March 2 at 7 p.m.
The margin of victory in both games was one as the Seahawks knocked off No. 5 seed Endicott, 1-0, and the Nor'easters defeated No. 2 seed Curry, 2-1, on the road.
This will be Salve Regina's first trip to the CCC Championship game, while the Nor'easters have finished as the CCC Tournament runner-up for the past two seasons.
The two teams played three times in the regular-season with the Seahawks holding the 2-1 edge in games won.
The winner of Saturday's championship game will be named the CCC Tournament Champion will receive the conference's automatic qualifier into the 2019 NCAA Division III Men's Ice Hockey Championship.
#1 Salve Regina 1, #5 Endicott 0
Game recap courtesy of the Salve Regina Sports Information Department.
PORTSMOUTH, R.I. - The Salve Regina men's ice hockey team shutout Endicott, the top scoring team in the nation, 1-0 to advance to the CCC championship game.
Series and Streaks
The Seahawks own an 8-2 record in the all-time series and have won five straight in the series.
Three Stars of the Game
- Salve Regina sophomore Paul Boutoussov (Dana Point, Calif.) scored the game's only goal with 1:05 left in the second period.
- Salve Regina senior Blake Wojtala (Trenton, Mich.) made 36 saves to secure his program-record 11th career shutout and improve to 17-6-2 between the pipes.
- Endicott freshman Conor O'Brien (Pinellas Park, Fla.) also made 36 saves, allowing just the lone goal in the loss to fall to 11-8-2 on the season.
Key Stat of the Game
Salve Regina held the nation's highest scoring offense without a goal. The Gulls came into tonight averaging 5.00 goals per game.
Danny Eruzione (Winthrop, Mass.) picked off a puck while the Gulls were trying to clear their zone and skated towards the net, firing a backhand across the slot that was deflected then punched home by Boutoussov to break a scoreless tie with just 1:05 left in the second period. The score remained 1-0 late into the third period forcing the Gulls to pull their goalie in desperation, but they could not find the equalizer even with a plethora of chances around the net in the final seconds and the Seahawks hung on for the shutout victory.
- The Gulls went 0-for-2 on the powerplay while the Seahawks came up empty as well on their lone chance with the man advantage.
- Salve Regina held a narrow 37-36 shot advantage.
- The Gulls have never scored a goal versus the Seahawks in the postseason, suffering 4-0 and 1-0 losses. Wojtala has stopped all 79 shots he has faced versus the Gulls in the playoffs.
- Salve Regina has now won seven games in a row.
- Salve Regina will host the conference championship for the first time in program history.
#3 University of New England 2, #2 Curry 1
Game recap courtesy of the University of New England Sports Information Department.
MILTON, Mass. – Brett Mecrones (Medford, Mass.) scored with 9:06 remaining in regulation to lift third-seeded University of New England over second-seeded Curry, 2-1, in the semifinals of the 2019 CCC Men's Hockey Championship on Saturday night at Max Ulin Rink.
The Nor'easters (19-6-2), ranked at No.15 in the nation, advance to the league final for the third consecutive season and will play top-seeded Salve Regina for the title next Saturday (7 p.m.) at Portsmouth Abbey Rink. The Seahawks secured their place with a 1-0 result against fifth-seeded Endicott.
UNE struck first, late in the opening period, when Austin Morgan (Novi, Mich.) fed Justin Dixson (Sunnyvale, Calif.) from behind the cage. Jeff Eppright (Barrington, N.J.) also assisted on the play. The Nor'easters carried that advantage through the second, but Zach White (Milford, Conn.) tied the game for the Colonels (16-7-3) just 21 seconds into the third.
Mecrones then blasted home the game-winner from the left circle following a set-up by Liam Neuman (Newmarket, Ontario) and Dimitris Jones (Seattle, Wash.).
Ben Churchfield (Newcastle, England) had 23 stops to earn his 14th win of the season for UNE. Justin Ketola (Cloquet, Minn.) made 36 saves for Curry.
The Nor'easters will be seeking their first conference championship when they square off with SRU. The Seahawks had a 2-1 edge in the 2018-19 series, dropping the regular-season opener at home (3-0) before taking the next two (3-1, 2-1) in Biddeford.
(Games hosted by the higher seed)
Quarterfinals – Wednesday, Feb. 20
Semifinals – Saturday, Feb. 23
Finals – Saturday, March 2
#3 University of New England at #1 Salve Regina, 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 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.