Top-seeded Nichols College skated past fifth-seeded Fitchburg State, 4-2, in the ECAC Northeast semifinals on Wednesday night and now the nations 13th ranked team will make its second straight appearance in the ECAC Northeast Championship game, hosting Wentworth Institute of Technology on Saturday at 1:45 p.m. Wentworth advanced with a 4-2 win over Curry College in Milton on Wednesday night.
Nichols offense came to life after a scoreless first period, when in the second frame Andrew Ella and Eric Cremer scored goals just 61 seconds apart. Wentworth answered with two of their own later in the second period, with Bob Kaloustian and Matt Arsenault tying the game, but less than a minute later, Glen Carcaro scored what proved to be the game winner when he buried his first goal of the year with 3:40 remaining. A Zach Hendrickson tally in the third proved to be an insurance goal.
Freshman goalie Jacob Rinn made 21 saves on the night, including five in the final 44 seconds when Fitchburg State pulled their goalie in favor of a 6-on-4 situation after the Bison were whistled for a penalty. He improves to 8-1-0 on the season, while the team improves to 16-1 in league play, and 24-3 overall.
Fourth seed Wentworth got 31 saves out of goalie Justin Marriott in the 4-3 win over Curry, ranked 15th nationally. Entering the third period tied at one, Wentworth freshman forward Casey Shade gave the Leopards a 2-1 lead at the 3:28 mark, but Curry freshman defenseman Ryan Barlock scored a shorthanded goal at 6:07 to tie things up at two.
The Leopards took the lead for good when senior forward Joey Sides scored on a breakaway at 15:43. Just 15 seconds later, Jeff Olitch recorded his 24th goal of the season–and set a new school record with his sixth game-winning goal of the season, putting Wentworth up by two.
Curry coach Rob Davies elected to pull junior goalie Steve Jakiel for an extra attacker. The move would pay off as Jeff Hazelwood would score his second of the game and 25th of the year, with 1:20 remaining. Jakiel came back on and make two saves before again being pulled with 30 seconds left, but the Colonels were unable to get a shot off and Wentworth would hang on for the victory.
For Wentworth, they improve their record to 13-3-1 in league play and 18-7-1 overall, and it is the second time in three seasons and the seventh time since 2000 that they have earned a spot in the ECAC Northeast championship.
Wentworth will be looking for their fifth conference championship. For Nichols they return for the second straight year in search of their first title.
In the lone regular season meeting between the two schools, the Bison prevailed, 9-2. Nichols also beat Wentworth in an early-season non-conference game, 3-2. This is just the second post-season meeting between the two schools, with Nichols holding a 1-0 advantage. Both teams are red hot right now, with Nichols having won 10 of their last 11 games, and Wentworth riding a 10-game unbeaten streak
Stonehill College, meanwhile, they arrived in the Northeast 10 finals with two sound road wins along the way. In the quarterfinals, they blanked Franklin Pierce 5-0, and then on Wednesday night beat St. Anselm.
Stonehill led 5-2 going into the third period, but late in the game St. Anselm cut into the lead on Brian Hartigan’s second goal of the game to make it 5-3. With less than two minutes left in regulation, after Saint Anselm had pulled goalie Pat Gallagher, Ryan Butler scored to make it a one goal game. After a Saint Anselm penalty, the Skyhawks put the game out of reach on a power-play goal from James Killeen with 1:27 left to play. Saint Anselm would pull Gallagher again, and Stonehill forward Pat Greene would add the empty netter for the 7-4 Skyhawks win.
Stonehill will advance to the finals on Saturday when they face St. Michaels, who advanced via a 4-2 win over Southern New Hampshire University. Stonehill faced St. Michaels only once this year, in a 5-2 loss last month. The Skyhawks are now 7-9-1 in league play, and 10-12-1 overall.