MANCHESTER, N.H. – The top-seeded Saint Anselm College men's hockey team rallied from a 3-0 deficit to twice get within a goal but fourth-seeded Assumption College held on to defeat the Hawks 4-3 in the semifinals of the Northeast-10 Conference Championship on Saturday at Sullivan Arena.
Assumption (10-14-2) scored the game's first three goals to build a 3-0 lead midway through the second period. Saint Anselm (12-12-2) fought back with two goals in the final five minutes of the second to get within one. In the third, the teams traded goals over the first 12-plus minutes but the Greyhounds made the 4-3 lead stand up to advance to the NE10 Championship title game.
In the championship game, Assumption will travel to St. Michael's to face the second-seeded Purple Knights, who defeated third-seeded Stonehill 4-1 in Saturday's other semifinal.
Jon Pallotta led the way offensively for Saint Anselm with a goal and an assist. Nick Leonard and Trey Aiello provided the other two goals for the Hawks. Colin Soucy made the start and stopped 8-of-11 shots in the first 28:12, before Shane Joyce took over and saved 7-of-8 shots in 30:21 in net.
Cam Laughlin netted a pair of goals, including the game-winner at 8:27 of the third period, for the Greyhounds, while Stephen Picard and Ryan Gomez also found the back of the net. Nick Commesso stopped 40-of-43 shots for Assumption to earn his sixth victory of the season, as Saint Anselm outshot Assumption 43-19.
The Greyhounds scored twice in the final seven minutes of the first period to lead 2-0 after one. Gomez got the first goal at 13:51 on the power play on a shot from the left point through traffic. Laughlin doubled Assumption's advantage with 1:35 remaining in the opener with a wrister from the top of the right circle after intercepting a pass as the Hawks tried to work the puck out of the defensive zone.
Assumption extended its lead to 3-0 at 8:06 of the second period when Picard scored from Nick Fenuccio on an odd-man rush. Leonard got the Hawks on the board at 15:24, poking home a rebound from in close after D'Amato hit the right post. Aiello made it a one-goal game heading to the third with his team-best 11th goal of the season with just 20.8 seconds to go in the second, tucking in a rebound off a Pallotta shot.
D'Amato, Pallotta and Trevor Kacz each had opportunities to knot the game at 3-3 in the first six minutes of the third period but Commesso was equal to the task each time. At the 8:27 mark, Laughlin raced onto a lofted puck and scored on a breakaway to put Assumption back ahead by two, 4-2.
A little less than four minutes later, Pallotta brought the Hawks back within a goal from Kacz and Justin Longo. Longo nudged the puck behind the goal to Kacz, who found Pallotta open between the circles and the junior buried it to make it a 4-3 game.
The Hawks had a chance on a power play after the Greyhounds took a penalty at 16:13 of the third and later pulled Joyce with 1:38 to go, but a tripping penalty with 1:25 remaining nullified the Hawks' extra skater.
Saint Anselm, which has appeared in all 18 NE10 Championships, fell to 25-8 all-time in the tournament. The Hawks conclude their season with a 12-12-2 record overall. Saint Anselm's six-man senior class of Brendon Kerrigan, Nick Leonard, CJ Blaszka, Peter Sikalis, Vin D'Amato and Lawrence Taylor IV concluded their careers on the Hilltop with 45 victories.