SO. BURLINGTON, Vt. – With an impressive defensive showing and a flurry of third period goals, the Saint Anselm men's hockey team surged to a 5-1 victory over ECAC East rival Saint Michael's College Friday night, snapping a six-game winless streak.
The win also improves Saint Anselm to 6-11-2 on the year and 5-7-2 in ECAC play, leaping over the Purple Knights in the league standings. Saint Michael's fell to an identical 6-11-2 record overall, but 4-8-1 in league play.
The second season matchup between the two dual-league foes, who skated to a 4-4 tie back in December at Sullivan Arena, appeared to be headed to a similar result early in the first period as both teams battled in a physical contest. Despite the Purple Knights controlling the puck early on, it was the visiting Hawks who struck first.
As it appeared Saint Anselm were about to work in a line change, sophomore CJ Blaszka (Brookfield, Conn.) carried the puck over the near blue line up the left side of the sheet, lacing a shot that beat Saint Michael's goaltender Dave Donzanti on the top-shelf right side from just inside the left circle at the 16:22 mark of the first period. Sophomore Peter Sikalis (Acton, Mass.) picked up the assist on the play, his second of the season, and Saint Anselm took a 1-0 lead into the first intermission.
Midway through the second period, sophomore Brendon Kerrigan (Boston, Mass.) returned to the ice after the Hawks successfully killed a Saint Michael's power play, and made an immediate impact. The stout Saint Anselm defense sent a deflected puck up ice that found Blaszka's stick on a breakaway. Donzanti made a great play by cutting down the angle and pushing the save out front to the left boards, but Kerrigan recovered the rebound and slapped home a deep shot from outside the left circle to make it 2-0 at the second intermission.
The third period got off to a bit of a rocky start for the Hawks freshman Nick Gorski (Sandown, N.H.), playing in his first game of the year, was hit with a tripping penalty just six seconds in. However, junior Mark Meads (Middleton, Mass.) collected a mishandled Saint Michael's pass near the blue line and raced up the right side, beating Donzanti 1-on-1 for a short-handed goal to make it 3-0 Hawks.
The Purple Knights, however, would convert later on that same power play, as Josh Dickman put away a close one with just eight seconds remaining with an extra-man to cut into the Saint Anselm lead.
At the 11:20 mark and just a few seconds into a 5-on-3 power play, junior Bryan Sullivan (Burlington, Mass.) dropped a beautiful pass to sophomore Nick Leonard (Methuen, Mass.) right out in front, and Leonard dumped it behind Donzanti to make it 4-1 Saint Anselm. Junior Tyler Estee (Bow, N.H.) earned the secondary assist on the first power play goal of the game for the visitors.
A mere minute later, and on the second half of the 5-on-4 power play opportunity, senior Kody Grondin (Hampton, N.H.) put away a rebound off a Sikalis shot to surge the Hawks to a commanding 5-1 lead that they would never relinquish.
Behind an inspired defense that picked up a slew of blocked shots, freshman Shane Joyce (Pembroke, Mass.) picked up the win and improved to 6-7-2 on the year while recording 17 saves. Donzanti was peppered for all five goals-against and recorded 28 saves with the losing decision.
Saint Anselm will continue on the road this weekend, hoping to take some momentum into a showdown at Norwich Saturday afternoon. The Cadets, who lead the ECAC East with an impressive 16-2-1 record overall and a perfect 12-0 record among league foes, will welcome Saint Anselm in a 4 p.m. start.