If the NEHC and MAC races are any indication for the final week of the regular season coming up, it is going to be a very exciting ride into the playoffs. Massachusetts-Boston needed a win in the last regular season game to clinch the top spot entering the playoffs, and Manhattanville knocked off Wilkes in the final game in conference play to lay claim to one title. Wesleyan had a chance to clinch the top spot in NESCAC, but suffered its first loss in conference play at Colby. Oswego and Geneseo skated to a 4-4 tie to maintain just a three-point gap with two games to play. Oh, and then there are the individual performances where multiple players recorded six points and more in games this weekend. Here is the recap of some of the great action in the East.
Most didn’t question that it would happen, but when would Salve Regina play its best hockey was the question. Based on their current five-game win streak, it seems like the Seahawks have found health and prosperity in their game at the right time of the season. This past weekend, they swept Becker by 11-1 and 3-2 scores to remain two points up in the CCC standings. On Friday, the offense was in high gear, led by sophomore Danny Eruzione, who picked up six points on a pair of goals and four assists. Vincent Renda and Paul Boutoussov also had four-point nights in the rout. On Saturday, things were a little tighter on home ice, as Boutoussov’s two goals around Colin Clapton’s score gave the Seahawks a 3-0 lead that they held onto for the win and weekend sweep.
The University of New England tried to keep pace, but only managed three of four points with a win and a tie against Nichols. After skating to a 2-2 draw on Friday, the Nor’easters again found themselves in a tight game on Saturday. Liam Darcy and Chris Jones scored to erase a 1-0 deficit, and UNE held on for a 2-1 win to stay within two points of Salve Regina, who they play in their final regular season game at home on Saturday.
Curry upped their win streak to five games with a sweep of Western New England. On Friday night, the Colonels’ Justin Ketola made 21 saves in the 3-0 shutout win. On Saturday, Zachery White picked up goals number 19 and 20 in a 5-1 win.
Endicott split their weekend series with Wentworth, with offense dominating the two-game set. After the Leopards won, 7-4, on Friday, the Gulls returned the favor on Saturday in an 8-4 win that saw Tommy Besinger record seven points and Daniel Kucerovy pick up six points on a hat trick and three assists. The Gulls are now tied for fourth place with Nichols with one game remaining on the schedule.
Post continues to make life miserable for the NE-10 teams on their schedule in the second half. On Friday night, Brandon Brown made 58 saves, and William Francis scored the game-winner in overtime for a 2-1 win over St. Michael’s. On Saturday, Brown again was solid with 37 saves, and Tyler Hackett’s special-teams hat trick was the difference in a 4-3 win for the Eagles. Hackett scored one power-play goal and two unassisted short-handed goals, including the game-winner.
Canton moved to 12-9-2 on the season with a sweep of Morrisville. The Kangaroos won easily on Friday night, but needed overtime on Saturday to take the 5-4 road win over the Mustangs. Sean David’s goal with just 16 seconds remaining in the extra session was the game- winner.
Plymouth State extended its win streak to four games and picked up four big points to remain atop the MASCAC standings. On Thursday, the Panthers downed Massachusetts-Dartmouth, 4-2, as four different players scored even-strength goals in the win. On Saturday, a trip to Salem State provided a close contest where PSU eked out a 5-4 win. Forward J.R. Barone scored a pair of goals, including one in the third period, to break a 4-4 tie and send the Panthers to victory.
Westfield State has moved into second place on the strength of a five-game win streak of its own. After downing Framingham State, 6-0, on Thursday, the Owls were outshot by Massachusetts-Dartmouth, 54-23, but came away with a 4-3 win. Thierry Messervier made 51 saves, and Francis-Xavier Girard scored twice on power plays to lead the Owls to the comeback win. Westfield State has one game in hand on PSU and will face the Panthers at home in their final conference game a week from Tuesday.
St. Anselm jumped back into the top spot with a weekend sweep over Franklin Pierce by 7-3 and 4-0 scores. Mike Ferraro’s 10th and 11th goals of the season led the offense on Friday night, and he scored the only goal that the Hawks and goaltender Colin Soucy would need in the 4-0 shutout win.
Stonehill and Southern New Hampshire split their weekend series. The Skyhawks won, 4-2, on Friday night, while the Penmen salvaged the split with a 4-0 win on Saturday. Goaltender Curt Gutting stopped all 40 shots he faced, and forward Chris Moquin paced the offense with three points to help SNHU to the win.
Massachusetts-Boston and Babson played their travel partner series to close out the regular season. With Babson winning at home on Friday night, 3-0, the stage was set for the battle for first place overall in the season finale. The Beacons were ready at home and a combined 11 points from forward Nolan Redler and defenseman Nick Albano in the 8-4 win that clinched the top seed entering the NEHC playoffs next week. Redler finished with four goals and two assists, while Albano chipped in with two goals and three assists. Zach Bross also had a four-point night with four assists in the game.
Norwich was the beneficiary of the Babson loss on Saturday as the Cadets continued their torrid play with wins over New England College and Southern Maine to move into second place. The Cadets upped their win streak to 10 games as they avenged an earlier season loss to NEC with a 3-0 win on Friday night. On Saturday, Norwich closed out the regular season with a 6-2 win over the Huskies that produced three power-play goals, including two by forward Brett Ouderkirk.
Hobart swept games from Johnson & Wales and Suffolk to leapfrog New England College into the final home-ice position and will now face the Pilgrims in the quarterfinals next weekend to open the NEHC tournament.
Wesleyan had visions of clinching the number one seed this weekend, but ran into a determined Colby squad on Saturday that kept the Cardinals a point short of their goal. The Mules won, 4-1, to hand Wesleyan its first loss in conference play this season. Goals by Nick O’Connor and Pat Daley in the third period broke open a 2-1 contest for the home team. Daley’s goal, his first of the season, came short-handed to ice the win in the final three minutes of regulation time.
Trinity stayed within four points of the Cardinals, who they face twice in the final weekend of the season. The Bantams needed overtime to down Colby on Friday, with Michael Grande scoring in the extra session for a 3-2 win. On Saturday, Tedy Loughborough made 28 saves, and Ryan Pfeffer, Adam Anderson, and Taggert Corriveau provided the goals in a 3-0 win over Bowdoin.
Geneseo and Oswego both took care of business on Friday night before the big matchup at Oswego on Saturday night. The Lakers downed Brockport, 3-0, despite being outshot, 35-23. David Richer stopped all 35 shots he faced for the shutout win. Geneseo outshot Cortland, 63-16, but needed a pair of power-play goals and an empty-net goal from Tyson Empey to down the Red Dragons, 3-0. The shutout win increased Devin MacDonald’s season total to 12.
On Saturday, the two ranked teams played to an exciting 4-4 overtime tie. A five-goal first period surprised many who expected a defensive battle as the visiting Knights took a 3-2 lead into the locker room after the first period of play. The second period saw the Lakers rally to tie the game on a goal from Anthony Passero before Joseph Molinaro gave Oswego the lead with a short-handed goal late in the second period. Geneseo’s Tyson Empey tied the game at 4-4 midway through the period on a power play, but no further scoring would decide a winner. Oswego outshot the Knights, 5-1, in overtime, but couldn’t get one past McDonald.
The tie leaves the gap between first and second at three points with just two games remaining. Geneseo can clinch with a win in their game on Wednesday night at Buffalo State.
Utica separated themselves from pack a bit this weekend with a win and some help on the scoreboard against key contenders in the UCHC. The Pioneers leveraged two goals from Gregg Burmaster in a 5-1 win at Chatham on Friday night before downing Stevenson, 5-2, on Saturday. Burmaster was again the offensive star for Utica as he scored three goals in the road win against the Mustangs to complete the Pioneers winning weekend.
Wilkes came back from a 4-3 deficit in the third period to down Neumann on Friday night, 5-4. On Saturday, in a game that had double value against Manhattanville, the Colonels dropped a 5-2 decision to the Valiants that hurt them in the UCHC standings and gave the MAC title to Manhattanville. Trailing 2-1 entering the third period, Manhattanville scored twice on power plays off the sticks of Alex Walltott and Matt Lippa to take a 3-2 lead. Empty-net goals from Bryan Platt and Cory Anderson in the final minute provided the insurance and the MAC championship to the visitors.
Elmira stayed in the hunt for the top spot with an exciting 6-5 win over Lebanon Valley. After racing out to a 3-0 lead, Elmira saw the Flying Dutchmen score five unanswered goals for a 5-3 lead midway through the third period. Aleksi Ojala and Andrew Pucci scored to tie the game, 5-5, before Nick Ford scored the game-winning goal with just 20 seconds remaining in regulation for the win.
Nolan Redler, Massachusetts-Boston: Redler led the Beacons to the regular season title with an 8-4 win over Babson. The senior forward scored four goals and added a pair of assists in the win on Saturday.
Danny Eruzione, Salve Regina: Eruzione led the offensive barrage in the Seahawks’ 11-1 win over Becker on Friday night. Eruzione scored twice and added four assists for a six-point night in the win.
Tommy Besinger, Endicott: Besinger scored one goal and added a six-pack of assists for seven points in the Gulls’ 8-4 win over Wentworth on Saturday.
Just a pair of races are decided, so there are a lot of possibilities for how things can shake out next week in all the other races. Key matchups between contenders are on the schedule this week, and playoffs are beginning.