SOMERVILLE, Mass. — UMass Dartmouth is at the top again in the ECAC NE, but getting back didn’t come easily. The Corsairs beat Suffolk University 5-2 on Wednesday night in Somerville, Mass., in a game that was closer than the score indicated.
Both squads came out skating hard in the first period, with the action back and forth in the early going. As the period progressed, UMass started gaining momentum, and was peppering Suffolk goalie Sean Bertoni with shots. The senior from Franklin, MA, was outstanding in the first frame, making many big saves, most from in close, or on redirect attempts. He stopped all but one of the seventeen shots he saw in the period, with Kyle McCullough scoring at the 6:32 mark, on a nice feed from Jeff Grant.
In the second period, Suffolk came out and applied pressure early, testing UMass goalie Jeff Green, who entered the game with a 7-0-0 record. Green performed well after only seeing three shots earlier. Suffolk tied it up at the 6:32 mark of the second, though, when Andrew Revlany and John Delaney carried the puck down the left side before dishing it to Scott Zanolli, who put it by Green.
Two and a half minutes later, Paul Garabedian of UMass was able to stop Suffolk’s momentum when he put the rebound of an Eric Quinlan shot past Bertoni. The momentum would swing UMass’ way later in the period, when Bertoni misplayed a Tyler Vrolyk shot with his blocker, allowing the third goal of the night to get by him. Within a minute, though, John Rocchio scored his tenth of the year for Suffolk off of a deflection, to bring them to within 1, and the period would close with UMass clinging to a 3-2 lead.
UMass coach John Rolli wasn’t at all surprised how well Suffolk was playing. “We absolutely expected a close game. They’ve had six losses by one goal, all identical scores, 4-3. Their first line is as good as any in the league.”
After out-shooting UMass 18-12 in the second period, Suffolk came out in the third and applied pressure early, but Green was solid for the Corsairs. At the 4:27 mark, UMass’ leading scorer, Jeff Grant, took a feed from behind the net from John Ripp and fired the puck between Bertoni’s pads, with the puck ricocheting off both of them and in, giving his team a 4-2 lead. At that point, Suffolk coach Chris Glionna called a time out, and replaced Bertoni with Mark Grignon. “The third and fourth goals he let in were pretty weak,” Glionna explained, “and I was looking for a spark, so I put Mark in.”
Grignon wasn’t tested right away, as Suffolk continued to buzz around the UMass zone, once again out-shooting their opponent in the period. At the 8:00 minute mark, speedy forward Dan Pencinger broke into the UMass zone, feeding John Delaney, who beat Green, but couldn’t beat the crossbar. A little over two minutes later, Mitch Sabo had a great chance from in front, only to have Green stop him, and then off the draw that followed, Zanolli had an attempt from in the slot stopped by Green.
UMass went up by three at 13:31 when Tyler Vrolyk came flying down the right wing and let a slap shot go from the right circle that Grignon couldn’t stop. The puck went top shelf, rattling the water bottle.
With the teams playing at four aside, Suffolk got one more chance with 2:30 left when Pencinger shot high on Greens right side, with the rebound trickling over Grant, and down his back, dropping right behind him. The Suffolk bench thought it was in, but play continued, and the game would end with UMass skating away with a hard-earned win, and recapturing first place in the league.