FRAMINGHAM, Mass. (November 2, 2017) – In a night which began with fog hovering over the ice surface during warm-ups, the 2017-18 Franklin Pierce University men's ice hockey season got off to an ominous start on Thursday night at Loring Arena. The Ravens were blitzed for six goals in the first period and never recovered, as they suffered a 7-1 defeat to Framingham State in non-conference play. Seven different players scored for the Rams in the victory.
With the loss, Franklin Pierce opens the season at 0-1-0, while Framingham State improves to 1-0-1.
The unseasonable warmth and humidity outside, combined with the coldness inside the rink, which dates to 1963, made for unique conditions. The glass bordering the ice surface remained fogged for most of the night, and pregame warm-ups began with a thin, but noticeable, fog covering the first few feet above the ice. The fog lightened as the game wore on and the temperature dropped outside, but was still present through the end of the game.
Senior goaltender Tom McGuckin (Clayton, N.J.), the reigning Northeast-10 Conference Goaltender of the Year, did not escape the first period in the season opener. Though he did himself no favors, as he ultimately surrendered five goals against just 10 shots, McGuckin (0-1-0) had little help from his defense amid the early barrage. Of the five goals, three were put home by unmarked forwards in the goalmouth, and another came as a bit of a fluke off of a deflection.
The onslaught began just 50 seconds in, as Framingham State jumped to an early lead it would never relinquish. Freshman forward Matthew Siegl had the finish on his second goal of the season, while freshman forward Ryan Paul and freshman defenseman Walker Hamilton provided the assists.
The same line found a bit of luck a handful of minutes later to cash in the eventual game-winning goal, at the 6:55 mark. Paul and freshman forward Brandon Hamner teamed to work the puck Hamilton at the left point. Hamilton let fly from there, and his shot deflected off a defenseman out front, ricocheted off the post and wound up in the net behind McGuckin to make it 2-0.
The Ravens appeared to stanch the bleeding from there, as the next six-plus minutes went without further scoring. Franklin Pierce cut the lead in half at 13:40, after Framingham State turned the puck over on a failed attempt to clear its own zone. The puck wound up kicking into the slot for sophomore forward Alex Lester (Methuen, Mass.), who buried an opportunistic one-timer for his first goal of the campaign. Senior forward Jonathan Haun (Buffalo, N.Y.) and sophomore forward Matthew Toombs (Pleasanton, Calif.) provided the assists.
The celebration was short-lived, however, as Framingham State answered just 14 seconds later, at 13:54. Freshman forward Robert McLean was allowed to walk right out front from the right-wing side and finished his first of the year from the doorstep, while junior forwards Ryan McDonough and Jake McKinnon picked up the helpers.
The McLean goal would ultimately prove to be the moment the wheels fell off for the Ravens, who would surrender three more goals before the opening stanza expired. The Rams pushed the lead to 4-1 at 16:10. Paul had the initial shot on the play, from the right circle, though the attempt was blocked by the defense. However, the puck rebounded between the hash marks for a wide-open Hamner, who teed up a one-timer and blasted home his first of the year.
The next goal came at 17:21, immediately off of a faceoff in a 4-on-4 situation. With the draw in the left-wing circle, the puck went forward. Senior forward Tyler Colacchio dove forward to get a stick on it and swatted it into the slot. Sophomore forward John Sheehan had gotten to the top of the crease unchecked and banged home the one-timer for his first of the season, to make it 5-1.
The Sheehan goal spelled the end of the night for McGuckin, who slammed the bench door in frustration on his way off the ice. Senior netminder Austin Christopher (Winthrop, Maine) took over for the remainder of the proceedings and would finish with 20 saves against 22 shots over the final 42:39.
Things did not immediately improve under Christopher's watch, as he surrendered a goal on the first shot he faced, a power-play marker just 36 seconds after the Sheehan goal, at 17:57. Freshman defenseman Tom Crotty put his shot into the top-right corner of the net for his first goal of the year, off an assist from Hamilton, who finished with three points on the night (1-2-3).
The first intermission offered a much-needed respite for the Ravens, who were outshot 14-9 over the opening 20 minutes, but the second period began with more of the same. Framingham State made it a 7-1 game just 38 seconds into the middle frame. Sophomore forward Brenden Williams centered the puck from the right-wing corner, and Colacchio put away his first of the year from right out front. Freshman defenseman Brody McDougal added an assist on the play as well.
Franklin Pierce finally settled in from there, and even outshot Framingham State, 32-18, over the final two periods. Unfortunately, it amounted to closing the barn doors after the horses had already gone, as the damage was already done in the lackluster first period. The final 59:22 of the night went without further scoring, as the Rams skated away with a 7-1 win.
Sophomore goaltender Greg Harney (1-0-1) piled up 40 saves against 41 shots on goal to pick up the win in the crease for Framingham State.
The Ravens will look to have short memories of Thursday night, as they return to the ice on Saturday night for their home opener. Opening faceoff against non-conference foe Worcester State is set for 7 p.m. at Jason Ritchie Ice Arena in Winchendon, Mass.
For more information on Franklin Pierce Athletics, please visit the official website of Franklin Pierce Athletics (http://athletics.franklinpierce.edu). Also be sure to follow the Ravens through the Department of Athletics' official Facebook page (http://www.facebook.com/FranklinPierceRavens), its YouTube channel (http://www.youtube.com/franklinpiercesports) and its Twitter feed (http://twitter.com/FPUathletics). Fans wishing to purchase Franklin Pierce ice hockey apparel can do so at the Department of Athletics' online store (http://athletics.franklinpierce.edu/store).