WINCHENDON, Mass. (November 11, 2017) – The Franklin Pierce University men's ice hockey team erased 2-0 and 3-2 deficits on Saturday evening, but could not do the same to a late 4-3 deficit at the Jason Ritchie Ice Arena. Saint Michael's freshman forward Brandon Mitchell popped the game-winner off of a faceoff in the middle stages of the third period, as the visiting Purple Knights took a 4-3, Northeast-10 Conference victory from the Ravens.
With the loss, Franklin Pierce falls to 1-3-0 (0-1-0 NE10), while Saint Michael's improves to 2-1-1 (2-0-0 NE10). The two teams will meet twice more, when they cap their respective regular seasons with a two-game series at Saint Michael's on Feb. 16-17.
Saint Michael's put home the lone goal of the opening frame on Saturday, just 23 seconds into a man-advantage. Junior defenseman Jack Ouellette slipped a shot through traffic from the middle of the blue line which went untouched and snuck between the pads of Franklin Pierce senior goaltender Tom McGuckin (Clayton, N.J.) to open the scoring. Senior forward Eric Salzillo and freshman forward Paul McAuliffe had the assists on Ouellette's first of the season at the 9:04 mark.
The teams would combine for three goals in the opening five minutes of the second period. Just 89 seconds into the frame, and only 35 seconds into another power play, the Purple Knights pushed the lead to 2-0. Freshman defenseman Noah Muller set up McAuliffe at the left point, and the latter sent his shot towards the net from there. Sophomore forward John Barry was stationed en route and deflected the puck home for his first goal of the campaign.
Just 90 seconds later, at 2:59, the Ravens got on the board. After a shot from the point by sophomore forward Matthew Toombs (Pleasanton, Calif.) was turned aside, junior forward Nicholas Fotiu (Falmouth, Mass.) corralled the puck at the right-wing side of the cage. He circled behind the net and sent the puck to the left point for freshman defenseman Paul Antkowiak (Salem, N.H.). Antkowiak stepped into a slap shot from there and blasted home his first collegiate goal.
Franklin Pierce evened the score at 2-2 with a 4-on-4 goal less than two minutes later. Senior forward Evan Marek (Enfield, Conn.) had the feed from the left-wing half boards, as he found fellow senior forward Jonathan Haun (Buffalo, N.Y.) outside the top of the crease. Haun was able the shepherd the puck to the right, around Saint Michael's junior goaltender Chris Johnson, and finish off his second goal of the year at 4:45.
The Purple Knights would take a 3-2 lead into the second intermission, as they capitalized on an ill-advised line change by Franklin Pierce. The Ravens headed for the bench before ensuring the puck was sent deep into the Saint Michael's end. Instead, senior defenseman Nathan Foice chased down the puck near the top of the faceoff circle on the defensive right-wing side of his own end. He turned and quickly fired a pass ahead. Freshman forward Brandon Mitchell deflected the puck near the red line, redirecting it to junior forward Sam D'Antuono, who had a head of steam through the neutral zone on the right-wing side.
D'Antuono led a 2-on-1 into the offensive end, with junior forward Nic Hermary joining him on the rush. From the bottom of the right circle, D'Antuono appeared to attempt to center the puck for Hermary, who was crashing to the top of the crease. Instead, the puck deflected off of either the lone defenseman, or McGuckin himself, and wound up in the back of the net, as Saint Michael's reclaimed the lead at 16:19.
Franklin Pierce again erased the deficit, this time with a goal at 5:37 of the third period, to tie the game at 3-3. Sophomore defenseman Sean Munzing (Beverly, Mass.) provided the centering feed from the right-wing corner, to Fotiu, who jammed home his first goal of the season from the top of the crease.
The Purple Knights found the game-winner just after the midpoint of the final frame, at the 11:41 mark. In the left-wing circle, D'Antuono cleanly won a faceoff to Hermary, who was stationed just behind and to the left of the faceoff spot. Hermary's one-time attempt was foiled, but Mitchell was on-hand to clean up the rebound and salt away his second goal of the season, as well as his second point of the night.
McGuckin (0-3-0) made 30 saves against 34 shots on goal and took the loss in net for Franklin Pierce. Johnson (1-1-0) stopped 17 of 20 shots at the other end of the ice to pick up the win for Saint Michael's.
The Ravens return to the ice on Friday, Nov. 17, when they remain home to host Stonehill in the front end of a weekend NE10 series. Opening faceoff is set for 7:30 p.m. at Jason Ritchie Ice Arena.
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).