MANCHESTER, N.H. – Mike Richard (Derry, N.H.) recorded a hat trick and Liam McKillop (New York, N.Y.) collected three assists to lead the Saint Anselm College men's ice hockey team to a decisive 7-2 victory against Stonehill College in both teams' regular-season finale Tuesday evening at Thomas F. Sullivan Arena.
The Hawks wrap up their regular season at 14-8-3, including 4-1-0 in Northeast-10 play to clinch both the Northeast-10 Regular-Season Championship and the No. 1 seed in the Northeast-10 Championship tournament. The Skyhawks fall to 11-14-0, 6-5-0 NE-10, and are seeded fourth. These two teams will meet again at Sullivan on Saturday, Feb. 23 at 7 p.m. in the semifinal round of the tournament, with the winner moving on to the championship game.
Saint Anselm jumped on the board just 3:14 into the contest when Richard collected a pass from Tim King (Weymouth, Mass.), skated up the left side and threw a shot on net from above the left circle that saucered over the glove of Stonehill goaltender Matthew Palella to make it 1-0. McKillop was credited with a secondary assist on the play.
The Hawks nearly went up by two goals at the 12:08 mark when King collected a loose puck by the left post and sent a feed to the slot for McKillop, whose one-timer was denied by Palella.
Stonehill came close to tying it five minutes later when a Saint Anselm turnover put the puck on the stick of Dan Graham, whose quick shot from the slot was smothered by Hawks goaltender Nick Dries (Commerce Township, Mich.).
Saint Anselm finally doubled its lead at the 4:13 mark when John Hyslip (Andover, Mass.) re-directed a shot from Alex Pascal (Blue Bell, Pa.) past Palella. Tyler Savage (Johns Creek, Ga.) initiated the sequence when his shot from the high slot created a rebound that caromed to Pascal at the right point. His drive was deflected in by Hyslip at the near post.
The Hawks went up 3-0 on the power play with just 53.1 seconds remaining in the opening period. Joe Tebano (Glastonbury, Conn.) took a shot from the slot that was saved by Palella, but the rebound skipped out to his right where Tucker Mullin (Andover, Mass.) lifted it into the top right corner of the net. Jon Ahern (Melrose, Mass.) earned an assist on the play.
Richard nearly made it 4-0 just under four minutes into the second stanza when his slapper from the right circle rang the near post. Richard did make it 4-0 at the 8:16 mark after battling for position on a long pass from Greg Crovo (Melrose, Mass.) before finally collecting the puck in the slot and wristing it over the left shoulder of Palella.
Saint Anselm looked to add to its lead with 5:07 left in the period when King stole the puck behind the net and fed Tebano for a one-timer in the slot, but Palella once again thwarted the chance.
The Skyhawks sliced into the Hawks' lead with 2:51 on the clock when Robbie Dorgan scooped up a rebound on the doorstep, following a shot from the right point by Travis Army, and put it past Dries to make it 4-1.
The Hawks took advantage of a Stonehill turnover at mid-ice to answer 1:03 later. Evan Gogonis (Northboro, Mass.) intercepted the puck and quickly moved it up to McKillop at the right circle. McKillop fed the puck across the slot to the edge of the left circle where Eric Czapka (Holland, Pa.) fired it into the near side of the net to open it up to 5-1.
Stonehill responded with a power-play goal at the 12:05 mark of the third period when Nate Soter swept in the rebound off Army's shot from the left point to trim the deficit to three.
Richard gained the hat trick on the man-advantage just under three minutes later, however, as he grabbed a pass from Greg Merrill (Brighton, Mich.) at the left point and snapped off a wrister from the left circle that beat Palella. McKillop began the sequence to earn an assist.
The Hawks closed the scoring with 7:09 to go in the final stanza as Johnny Daniels (Andover, Mass.) sent a pass from the right post to the left post for Bryan Sullivan (Burlington, Mass.), who quickly shoveled it into the open left side of the cage. Will Husic relieved Palella before the ensuing faceoff and made one save the rest of the way.
Dries stopped 18 shots, while Palella made 41 saves, including 18 in the opening period.
Saint Anselm, which outshot Stonehill, 49-20, was 2-for-4 on the power play. The Skyhawks were 1-for-2.
The top-seeded Hawks return to action Saturday, Feb. 23 at 7 p.m. when they play host to No. 4 seed Stonehill in a Northeast-10 Championship tournament semifinal tilt at Sullivan. Stay up-to-date with the latest news, including game previews and recaps, directly from the Saint Anselm College athletic department by liking us on Facebook (http://www.facebook.com/STAHawks) and following us on Twitter (http://www.twitter.com/STAHawks).