WELLESLEY, Mass. — Babson College had not made it to the quarterfinals of the NCAA tournament since 2007. That was, until Wednesday night, when the Beavers thoroughly dominated Wentworth by a score of 6-1 in front of a packed house at the Babson Skating Rink.
The Beavers’ second line of Connor Berto, PT Donato, and Troy Starrett generated the most quality chances throughout the game. It didn’t take long for the line to make its mark, as Donato rang one off the post just four minutes into the game. Just a few minutes later, at the 7:45 mark, Babson drew first blood when Starrett tipped a Matt Furey wrist shot past Wentworth goalie Joel Miller.
Babson outshot the Leopards 13-2 in the first period, but only found the back of the twine that one time.
The score stayed that way until the 3:58 mark of the second period, when Donato tipped in a Mike Vollmin slap shot for a 2-0 lead.
One of the prettiest plays of the night gave Babson a 3-0 lead at the 8:36 mark. The second line was cycling the puck well down low when Berto, from in back of the net, found a streaking Starrett in front for his second of the night.
With just over two minutes to go in the second period, Wentworth began to get a little momentum when Adam Frank scored his 11th of the year on a rebound goal from the right side of Babson goalie Zeke Testa. Wentworth got a power play less than a minute later, but could not capitalize.
Babson put any hopes of a Wentworth comeback on ice when Max Franklin scored just 2:15 into the final frame. Furey and Andrew Bonazza assisted. Jay Haseley added two insurance goals to put the game well out of reach.
Testa made 19 saves on the night for the victory. The Beavers blocked 20 shots, as well, which was a source of pride for both players and coaches following the game.
“We want to win; they have really dedicated themselves,” said Babson coach Jamie Rice, when asked about his team’s ability to block shots.
Captain Ryan Smith added, “We pride ourselves on blocking shots. We practice it in practice.”
The season ended in disappointment for RJ Tolan’s Leopards, but he was proud of the team after the game, and chose to reflect on the positives.
“As I told my team after the game, it was an honor to go through the wars with them,” said Tolan. “They were the best team I’ve ever coached. The guys always showed up and worked hard.”
Babson just had too much team speed, and was able to roll four lines while an undermanned Wentworth team seemed to slow down as the game progressed.
Smith said after the game, “We feel like there isn’t much difference in any of our lines, and we’re comfortable with whatever line is out there.”
“The guys played their hearts out,” Rice said. “They played with passion like they have for the past four months. The kids really believe in each other, and don’t want to let each other down.”
Babson will travel to Norwich to play the Cadets in the NCAA Quarterfinals on Saturday. The Beavers have already defeated Norwich twice on the season, so it will be a tall order to down the Cadets for a third time in what will be an extremely hostile environment. Smith said the team is ready and anxious for a chance at beating Norwich three times.
“It’s going to be a great atmosphere up there. We know what’s at stake: a trip to the Frozen Four. We can’t wait to get up there. We know they’re going to have our number after beating them twice.”