MANCHESTER, N.H. – The top-seeded Saint Anselm College men's ice hockey team fell to the number two-seeded Penmen from Southern New Hampshire University, 4-3, on Saturday afternoon at Sullivan Arena in the Northeast-10 Conference Championship game. It was a sellout crowd at Sullivan Arena between the cross-town rivals in what proved to be an exciting championship matchup.
Juniors Mike Ferraro (Northbridge, Mass.) and Sean Verrier (Reading, Mass.) were named to the All-Tournament team for the Hawks, who finished the season with a 16-13-2 record. Saint Anselm was making its 17th appearance in the finals and will settle for its seventh second-place finish. The Hawks lead all conference programs with 10 league titles to its credit.
The Penmen concluded the season with a 14-9-4 record, claiming their second NE10 title.
Southern New Hampshire wasted little time to take the lead and built a 3-0 advantage heading into the first intermission.
Artem Efimov-Barakov received a pass from Max Kent at the left circle and sent a wrist shot by senior netminder Colin Soucy (North Andover, Mass.) to give the visitors a 1-0 lead at 1:04 of the opening period.
The pressure continued by the Penmen and Joe Fiorino pushed the lead to 2-0 just before the five-minute mark of the opening period.
The Hawks fired six shots on net over the next 10 minutes, but it was Southern New Hampshire that made it 3-0 at the 16:52 mark of the first. Brett Strawn won the faceoff and nudged the puck to Chris Moquin, who sent a shot inside the right post.
The Hawks would not go quietly as Verrier jammed home the puck exactly three minutes into the second period to make it 3-1 in favor of the Penmen. Senior Kevin Curley (Avon, Mass.) sent the puck toward the net and Verrier was able to push it under the pads of Kurt Gutting.
Verrier scored again to cut the deficit to a goal, this time on the power play at the 10:02 mark with assists from Ferraro and sophomore Alec Andreucci (Guilford, Conn.).
Fiorino lifted the Penmen advantage back to two goals, 4-2, scoring just before the 12-minute mark of the second stanza. Saint Anselm put home the final goal of the game with 3:01 left in the second as junior Liam O'Sullivan (North Hampton, N.H.) pushed the puck toward the net and classmate Trey Aiello (Williamsburg, Va.) slid it underneath Gutting.
The Hawks had a 29-6 advantage in shots in the final two periods, but could not find the equalizer, finishing the game with a 40-16 shot advantage. Soucy took the loss and finished with 12 saves in the final game of his career. Gutting, the NE10 Tournament Most Outstanding Player, stopped 37 shots for Southern New Hampshire.
NE10 All-Tournament Team
Most Outstanding Player - Kurt Gutting - Southern New Hampshire
Saint Michael's - Nic Hermary
Assumption - Matt Damelio
Saint Anselm - Sean Verrier
Saint Anselm - Mike Ferraro
Southern New Hampshire - Joe Fiorino
Southern New Hampshire - Artem Efimov-Barakov
Southern New Hampshire - Kurt Gutting