HENNIKER, N.H. – Sophomore Vin D'Amato (Sutton, Mass.) roped a game-winning goal from the right faceoff circle 37 seconds into the overtime period as the Saint Anselm men's hockey team completed the season sweep of the Pilgrims Friday night at Lee Clement Arena in Henniker, 4-3.
The win breaks a tie in the ECAC East division race between the two teams, as Saint Anselm improved to 8-12-2 and 6-8-2 in ECAC play. New England College, meanwhile, fell to 8-11-4 and 5-9-2 in league action.
The Hawks outshot the Pilgrims, 33-25, despite just one recorded in the overtime period. That lone shot proved the difference as the Hawks won their second game in a row and third of the last four.
Just as the Hawks killed a Pilgrim power play opportunity, Brendon Kerrigan (Boston, Mass.) replaced D'Amato, who was boxed with a holding penalty at the three-minute mark of the opening frame, and streaked up the left side of the ice unmarked. He got deep inside the circle and received a beautiful dish from Ryan Donovan (Bridgewater, Mass.) and laced it top shelf over the right shoulder of Pilgrim goaltender Brett Kilar. Junior Bryan Sullivan (Burlington, Mass.) picked up the secondary assist on the breakaway.
Freshman goaltender Shane Joyce (Pembroke, Mass.) made a great play to poke away a rolling puck on a NEC breakaway at the 5:57 mark of the period as both teams exchanged a line. Both teams picked up six shots in the first period, but Joyce held NEC scoreless and the Hawks surged to a 1-0 lead at the first intermission.
Saint Anselm quickly made it 2-0 after producing on the first of a five-minute boarding penalty just 1:06 into the second period. Junior Tyler Estee (Bow, N.H.) played the puck around the back side of the net and found senior Joey Agliato (Hauppauge, N.Y.), who sent it just outside the right circle to Sullivan. The junior snuck his eighth goal of the season just inside the left pipe to double the Hawks' lead.
Joyce continued to rack up some impressive saves early in the second session, including a breakaway chance off the Pilgrims' expired penalty. Yet NEC would finally find the net on a power play of its own, coming at the 7:22 mark as Joe Osaka stuffed in a close one he received from the left circle. A misplayed bouncing puck by the Hawks between the circles in their defensive zone was scooped up and rocketed home by the Pilgrims' Andreas Persson to lock the game at 2-2 heading into the second intermission.
The Hawks would respond again on its lone power play opportunity of the third period, as senior Kody Grondin (Hampton, N.H.) knocked down a deflected shot by Kerrigan and laced one over Kilar's left shoulder to retake the lead. But the Pilgrims tied the game again, as NEC's Garrett Brazzier dumped the puck into the open left side of the net on a rebound off Joyce's right pad.
The two teams locked at 3-3 after regulation, it took just 37 seconds of the overtime period for D'Amato to score his second goal of the season—and second of his career. Kerrigan notched his third point of the day with an assist, and senior Sean Jenkins (Boston, Mass.) picked up his 12th assist of the season on the game-winner.
Joyce finished the game with 22 saves and improved to 8-8-2 with the winning decision. Kilar took the loss and picked up 29 saves on the night.
After Friday's rivalry win, Saint Anselm will hop back into Northeast-10 action with a huge matchup against Stonehill Tuesday night at Sullivan Arena. With a win, the Hawks will clinch the #2-seed for the Northeast-10 Championship tournament in two weeks, while a victory by the Skyhawks will align them with a top-seed bid. Barring any weather issues, game time Tuesday is slated for 7 p.m.