WEST SPRINGFIELD, Mass. — Junior Brandon Coccimiglio scored two goals in less than a minute to lead the Mercyhurst Lakers to an 8-2 victory over American International College on Friday night at the Olympia Ice Center.
Coccimiglios pair were the first in a five goal third period for the Lakers, which broke open what, to that point, was a close game.
AICs Chris Campanale and Josh Froese countered with two points apiece.
The final score was not indicative of the kind of game that it was, said Mercyhurst head coach Rick Gotkin. We got some timely saves, we scored some timely goals, and thats hockey.
AIC (2-9-1 overall, 2-7-1 in Atlantic Hockey) dug themselves a hole in the first, when Luciano Primiani was sent to the box for shooting the puck after an offsides whistle. The penalty sent the ensuing faceoff into AICs defensive zone, where Cody Collins quickly punched in the first goal of the game. Kevin Noble and Cullen Eddy were each awarded assists,
AIC defenseman Nick Grasso had a chance to tie the game at 14:12. However, the shot from his one-man rush hit the post.
Mercyhurst (5-9-1, 5-5-1) extended their lead with back-to-back goals early in the second frame. First, Grant Blakey capitalized on a rebound from a Jeff Terminisi shot at the 5:30 mark. Then, just 21 seconds later, Derek Elliot chipped in his third goal of the season.
Sensing that the game was getting out of hand, AIC called a timeout after the Elliott goal.
The Yellow Jackets battled back in the latter half of the second period. With just under 10 minutes left in the period, Josh Froese slid the puck to Tom Mele behind the net. Mele spotted Chris Campanale at the top of the right circle and Campanale found the back of the net.
The AIC Captain returned the favor in the waning minutes with a feed to Froese, for his third goal of the season, drawing the game to 3-2.
The goals ended a two game drought for the Yellow Jackets.
It was nice to see us finally put a couple of points on the board, said AIC coach Mike Field.
AIC had chances to tie the game in the third, including two picturesque chances by Mele, one of which slipped past Mercyhurst goaltender Ryan Zapolski but trickled just wide of the net. That was when the Lakers turned the tide.
With AICs Rob Blanchette in the box for cross-checking. Coccimiglios first came thanks to a deflected Matt Fennel shot. Fighting for position in front of the net, the Burlington, ON native quickly tapped the puck past AIC Goaltender Ben Meisner.
His second came thanks to his own speed, when he beat two defensemen to the puck and snuck the breakaway shot five-hole.
Four minutes later, the Lakers scored the prettiest goal of the night. Steve Cameron and Mike Gurtlers give-and-go bested the AIC defense and earned them the sixth goal of the night.
At that point, Meisner was pulled for Jake Anderson.
Jesse Echternach and Patrick Goebel rounded out the scoring for Mercyhurst.
On Saturday, the two teams return to the Olympia for the second game of their weekend twin billing. The game starts at 7:05 p.m.
Despite the win, Gotkin did not jump to conclusions about Saturdays matchup.
Our league is an unbelievably competitive league every single night. Theres no easy nights. You have to play pretty darn good to be successful.