BABSON PARK, Mass. – For the second straight night, the Saint Anselm men's hockey team nearly pulled off a huge road upset against a nationally-ranked ECAC East foe, but host Babson's power play goal with just under five minutes remaining in the game was the difference in the Beavers' 7-5 victory Saturday night at Babson Skating Center.
The loss—the Hawks' fourth straight—dropped Saint Anselm to 5-10-1 on the year and 4-6-1 in ECAC East play. Babson, ranked No. 6 in the latest Division III U.S. College Hockey Coaches Association poll, improved to 13-2-2 overall and 8-1-1 in ECAC East action.
Efficiency and balance was the storyline of Saturday's matchup featuring the pair of talented league rivals, as 21 different skaters tallied at least one point Saturday night—seven of which came from the Saint Anselm sidelines—yet none of those players tallied more than one goal. Also, while the two teams were whistled for only five penalties apiece, they combined for an impressive 6-for-9 in power play opportunities with Saint Anselm making good on three of its four chances with a man advantage.
The evenly matched squads played like it throughout the first period as both teams got off 11 shots on goal. Saint Anselm junior Bryan Sullivan (Burlington, Mass.) opened the game with an unassisted power play tally just 4:44 into the game, but Babson's Jake Donahue evened the score 10 minutes later as the teams entered the first intermission locked at 1-1.
Saint Anselm opened the second period with another quick early-period score, this time by sophomore CJ Blaszka (Brookfield, Conn.). Blaszka's score—his third of the season, marked the Hawks' second unassisted goal of the game 1:42 into the second session. Babson's Max Franklin once again pulled the Beavers even two minutes later on a power play score before sophomore Nick Leonard (Methuen, Mass.) knocked home a power play goal of his own off assists from seniors Sean Jenkins (Boston, Mass.) and Johnny Daniels (Andover, Mass.).
However, Babson would tie the game again on a Bill Seligman power play goal, then take the lead at the 14-minute mark of the second period on a goal by Matt McMorrow, skating to a 4-3 advantage to close out the second stanza.
The seesaw scoring battle carried through to the third period, with senior Ryan Donovan (Bridgewater, Mass.) scoring at the 3:49 mark on Daniels' second assist of the game. Yet the Beavers Mike Driscoll was right there with an answer just 30 seconds later to regain the lead.
Finally, junior Mark Meads (Middleton, Mass.) locked the game at 5-5 midway through the third period off a Blaszka assist as Saint Anselm kept its upset bid alive. That bid would burst with Babson's Michael Phillips blasted home yet another power play goal with just over six minutes remaining in the game to take the final lead. The Beavers' Rob Devaney also tacked on an empty netter to seal a very hard-fought victory for host Babson.
Freshman goaltender Shane Joyce (Pembroke, Mass.) picked up a game-high 32 saves for the Hawks, but fell to 5-7-1 on the year while taking Saturday's losing decision.
Despite dropping both of this past weekend's contests, Saint Anselm battled the pair of NCAA-ranked opponents to the bitter end, scoring an impressive nine combined goals against two of the top teams in the nation.
Saint Anselm returns home next weekend, hoping to get back on track for a pair of ECAC East games. The Hawks host Skidmore at 7 p.m. Friday before welcoming Castleton at 4 p.m. Saturday afternoon. Both of next weekend's men's games, as well as the women's home game Saturday, will be a part of the annual Pink in the Rink games.