SPRINGFIELD, Mass. — Western New England’s hot start hasn’t come without consequences.
“I’m losing hair and they’re stressing me to the max,” WNEC coach Greg Heffernan said following the Golden Bears’ thrilling 6-5 overtime win against Curry at Smead Arena Thursday night.
But Heffernan also has reason to be smiling, as the Golden Bears’ third overtime in their first four games produced their third win of the year, already matching last season’s mark.
Senior Chris Beaudoin’s goal at 3:38 in the extra period sent WNEC home winners and thwarted the Colonels’ (0-2-1) effort at a first win of the season.
The winning play began with Korey Grahl taking a pass from Dave Tavella and flicking a shot down low that bounced off Curry goalie Robert Dawson (24 saves) and across the crease to Beaudoin, who buried it for his second score of the game.
“We took a shot from across the crease and I was just there to bury it,” Beaudoin said. “It was a good shot.”
WNEC (3-0-1) never led until Beaudoin’s final tally, but Curry was unable to distance itself from the Golden Bears.
“[It's] sort of been a bit of a theme,” Curry coach Rob Davies said. “It’s our third game and we’ve had leads in other games. And we give them up pretty quick, as [was] evident tonight.”
Curry took a 1-0 at 4:13 in the first when Michael Guzzo flicked the puck from the right post over the left shoulder of goalie T.J. Fatse (26 saves). But Western New England wasted little time responding, as freshman Dan Monahan’s first collegiate goal tied the game at 8:16.
An aggressive penalty kill paid dividends for Curry midway through the first period. With Shane Geib in the box for hooking, the Colonels pressured the puck in the Western New England zone and it paid off when Brett Kaneshiro’s shot from the slot found its way past Fatse for a short-handed goal at 10:56.
“I told our guys if we don’t get something together on the power play I’m going to start declining penalties,” Heffernan said. “I think we just got a little bit non-chalant. … It doesn’t matter if you are on the power play against Curry, they are so fast and so good that the minute you don’t respect them they bury it on you.”
The Colonels’ aggressive penalty kill almost cost them at some phases, as they gave up several rushes throughout the game.
“It’s a fine line,” Davies said of being aggressive while short-handed. “We got burned a couple of times tonight on our reads. It’s a read situation [where] three guys have got to read the same thing and if you have one or two guys misread it, you’re in trouble. We’ve scored a lot of short-handed goals [in the past] and it was nice to get one tonight. I thought we’d roll from there but I was wrong.”
Matching roughing minors to the Colonels’ Michael Cenisio and Golden Bears’ John Kelly created a four-on-four situation early in the second period. Curry wasted little time capitalizing on the extra space, as Josh Kamrass buried a John Williams rebound 11 seconds into the 4-on-4. But WNEC again held tough, as Mike Kaselouskas scored 25 seconds later to keep the Golden Bears within one.
“We gave up a bad goal on the four-on-four,” Heffernan said. “We were sitting back a little bit on our heals and one of our upperclassmen picks up the puck and says ‘I’m going to score.’”
Fatse left the game with muscle cramps at 3:38 in the third and was replaced by freshman Erik Sorenson (20 saves). Curry and Western New England traded goals within a span of 37 seconds to make the score 4-3 Curry at 6:43.
Beaudoin tied the game at 12:33, but Kamrass’ second score of the night put Curry briefly up 5-4 before Brian Prost tied the game at 13:46, setting up Beaudoin’s overtime heroics.
“It was great,” Beaudoin said. “We’ve wanted them for a while, especially after the playoffs last year with the way the beat us [13-2 in the opening round]. We wanted to come back and work hard against them. We knew we could beat them and we came out and worked hard and took it to them.”
Western New England will travel to Wentworth (1-3-1) on Sunday at at 5:30 p.m. EST, while Curry hosts Becker (2-2-1) Saturday at 4:35 p.m. EST.