MANCHESTER, N.H. – The Saint Anselm College men's ice hockey team secured the regular-season Northeast-10 Conference title and the top seed in the upcoming NE10 Championship with a 4-2 victory over crosstown-rival Southern New Hampshire University on Senior Night at Sullivan Arena on Friday evening.
Saint Anselm (14-9-1, 10-4-0 NE10) entered the night just one point ahead of both Assumption and Saint Michael's in the NE10 standings, but the win paired with the Purple Knights' loss to Franklin Pierce gave the Hawks the 13th regular-season title in program history. The victory over Southern New Hampshire (12-7-3, 6-6-2 NE10) and the other result also assured the Hawks and Penmen will meet in the semifinals of the NE10 Championship on Saturday, Feb. 24.
The Hawks extended a pair of streaks with the win. Saint Anselm has won five-straight games and also clinched its 19th consecutive berth in the NE10 Championship, which the Hawks have never missed.
Prior to the game, the Hawks honored their five-man senior class of Brenden Cain, Nick Gorski, Justin Longo, Jon Pallotta and Shane Joyce for their efforts over the past four seasons. The quintet has helped Saint Anselm to 49 victories in their careers and led the team to its second-straight NE10 regular-season title.
Seven different skaters had one point apiece for the Hawks, who fell behind 1-0 but rattled off four-straight goals in the second and third periods to take control. Saint Anselm got goals from Kevin Curley, Jonathan Folsom, Jake Grade and Longo on the night.
Neither team scored in a first period that ended bizarrely when junior Bryan Green was knocked down behind the net and his skated shattered the glass with 21.1 seconds remaining in the period. The teams took the first intermission early as the glass was repaired and played out the final 21.1 seconds immediately before starting the second period.
Just 1:33 into the second, the Penmen took the lead when Kyle Valliere fired a shot off the underside of the bar and in off a pass from Kyle Galloway. The lead lasted less than four minutes, however, as Curley scored for the second-straight game with the first of Saint Anselm's two short-handed goals. From the left boards, Jeremy Carignan fed the puck to Curley in the middle, Curley skated to the outside edge of the right circle and beat Kurt Gutting on the near side to tie it up.
Midway through the second, Folsom gave the Hawks the lead for good with his first collegiate goal. The freshman robbed the puck off a Southern New Hampshire defenseman at the blue line and fired a shot from near the left boards into the top-right corner for an unassisted goal.
Saint Anselm made it 3-1 just 15 seconds into the third when Grade blasted in a one-timer from just inside the zone on the right after John Femia won a faceoff straight back to the sophomore on the penalty kill. Longo and Brian Cameron combined for the Hawks' fourth goal a little over two minutes later. The pair exchanged cross-ice passes with Cameron playing in Longo up the left and the senior picked out the top-left corner.
Timothy Baylis got one goal back for the Penmen on the power play at 15:23 of the third. Junior Colin Soucy made 25 saves to record his fifth-straight victory in net, while Gutting had 41 saves for the Penmen in the loss.
The same two teams will conclude their three-game regular-season series at the SNHU Arena on Saturday, Feb. 17 in a 3 p.m. start.