MANCHESTER, N.H. – Trailing by a 5-2 margin entering the third period of Saturday's Northeast-10 Conference Men's Ice Hockey Championship game, the Saint Anselm men's ice hockey team rattled off four-straight goals to stun the Purple Knights from Saint Michael's College by a 6-5 score in overtime.
With the victory, Saint Anselm (17-9-1) has claimed its 10th NE10 Tournament championship since the conference's inception in 1999. Under Head Coach Jim Tortorella, the Hawks finished their season having won eight-straight games, the second-longest streak in program history. It is the first-ever overtime win in the NE10 Championship game for Saint Anselm.
Junior forward Jeremy Carignan scored the game-winning goal for the Hawks at the 12:13 mark of overtime, capping a four-goal comeback for Saint Anselm and delivering a league title to the Hilltop. On the power play following a Saint Michael's boarding penalty, junior Kevin Curley worked the puck down low to freshman Alec Andreucci.
Andreucci's nifty cross-crease pass found its way to the stick of Carignan, who partially fanned on the shot. The change-up shot looped over the glove hand of Saint Michael's netminder Chris Johnson and completed the comeback.
Saint Michael's crept out to a 2-0 lead after only 12-plus minutes of action as Eric Salzillo and Nic Hermary scored even-strength markers to put the visitors ahead in the early goings. The Purple Knights appeared to be clicking on all cylinders as eight different skaters had a point on just the two Saint Michael's tallies.
Defenseman Liam O'Sullivan scored his third goal of the season, halving the Saint Michael's advantage with just under five minutes left in the opening stanza. A tough-angle shot by sophomore Trey Aiello was kicked aside by Johnson, but the rebound spilled out to the top of the slot where O'Sullivan flicked the puck home.
Curley tied the game at two shortly into the second period as a slap pass by Nick Gorski set up the scoring play. Carignan was on the receiving end of the hot pass from the point and a nifty spin move slid the puck across the crease to Curley, who buried the puck for his third marker of the season.
Andrew Olevitz, Paul McAuliffe and Sam Finkelstein struck for Saint Michael's across the next four minutes – Olevitz and McAuliffe scored only 13 seconds apart. The third Purple Knights goal, put home by Finkelstein after a fortunate carom off the end boards, was put home at 15:54 of the period.
Gorski's third goal of the season was the spark that the Saint Anselm offense needed. Gorski wristed a shot on net that got caught up in the stick of Johnson – the puck was aided home by a crashing Mike Ferraro, whose offensive pressure forced Johnson to fall backward into the goal.
Justin Longo's fourth goal of the season came at 11:38 of the third period, cutting the Hawks deficit to 5-4. A hard shot from the right point by defenseman Jake Grade was halted by Johnson, but the rebound was slapped home by Longo to fuel the Saint Anselm comeback. Ferraro's pass to Grade from the right-wing corner earned him an assist on the play.
Ferraro potted the equalizer only minutes after Longo's goal, knotting the game at five with 6:56 to go in regulation. An off-balance shot along the ice by Curley was deflected home by Ferraro, positioned at the top of the blue paint. Gorski earned his second assist of the afternoon on the play.
Senior Brenden Cain, making only his 12th career appearance for Saint Anselm in goal, was named Most Valuable Player of the NE10 Championship. Entering the game in the second period, Cain came off the bench to halt all 17 shots on net that he faced and backstopped the Hawks to the victory.
Colin Soucy earned the start for the Hawks, yielding five goals on 20 shots before the final Saint Michael's goal, put home off a tough-luck bounce on the end boards, chased him from the game.
Johnson drew the loss, despite stopping 45 shots across 72:13 of action. The Hawks finished the game with a hefty 51-37 advantage in shots taken and put home two goals on three chances with the power play. The Purple Knights capitalized on one of their two opportunities with the extra skater.
Senior Jon Pallotta and Gorski joined Cain on the NE10 All-Tournament team. Saint Michael's Sam D'Antuono finished with three assists in Saturday's tilt, joining Nathan Foice as the Purple Knights' representatives on the All-Tournament team. Assumption's Cam Laughlin and Southern New Hampshire's Chris Moquin rounded out the squad.