NORTHFIELD, Vt. — Last year, New England College made it to the ECAC East tournamament semifinals. The Pilgrims’ goal this year was to go even further.
Mission accomplished. NEC defeated Salem State, 4-1, on Friday, lifting the Pilgrims into Saturday night’s championship game against defending-national champion Norwich.
The Pilgrims scored three goals in the third period to break a 1-1 tie. Ralph Aiello scored the game-winner 1:12 into the period on assists from Martin Ene and Keith Wallace. Aiello completed his hat trick at the 16-minute mark on assists from Pat Bryant and Ene. Then Matt Stack capped the scoring with under two minutes to play with an empty-net power-play goal.
Salem State’s Chris McCabe opened the scoring four minutes into the game. Aiello countered that goal with one of his own in the final minute of the third period.