East wrap: Jan. 2

Salve Regina goaltender Blake Wojtala has the Seahawks focused on a good start in conference play (Ed Habershaw)

Happy New Year! Some teams got right back to action this weekend in either holiday tournament or nonconference match-ups that included some teams from the West trekking into the frozen tundra that has been the East Coast for the past week. A couple of teams seemed to pick up right where they left off, while others are still searching for a second half warm-up. Here are some of the most notable highlights from the past weekend.

Codfish Bowl Tournament
On paper, this field was outstanding, as it included the host Beacons from Massachusetts-Boston, Adrian, Williams, and Salve Regina. While many might have anticipated a national top five final, the Seahawks took the title with wins over Adrian and UMB to claim the trophy.

Goalie Blake Wojtala made 38 saves, while Jack Billings and Pat Thompson scored a pair of goals each in Salve Regina’s 6-2 win over Adrian on Friday. In the championship game, Wojtala was again a key to victory, stopping 41 of 43 shots. The Seahawks built a 2-0 lead off goals from Thompson and Vincenzo Renda, but the Beacons rallied to tie the game at 2-2 midway through the third period. Erik Udahl played hero, scoring the game-winning goal unassisted with just 11 seconds remaining in regulation to give Salve Regina the win and back-to-back victories over nationally ranked teams.

Middlebury Classic
Middlebury entered their own tournament with a 1-7-0 record, but found some holiday magic in the goaltending of Stephen Klein, who stopped 65 of 68 shots in downing St. Michael’s and No. 3 Oswego to win the trophy. Mitchell Allen’s first two goals of the season in the third period gave the Panthers the lead twice, with his goal at 17:31 of the period being the game- and tournament-winner. The Lakers outshot Middlebury by a 37-19 margin, but Klein was it his best over the final two periods, stopping 27 of 28 shots.

Lake Forest came east and found two inhospitable hosts in Babson and Curry over the weekend. The Beavers downed the Foresters 4-1 on Saturday, with Zach Phelps opening and closing the scoring for Babson. Matt Pompa made 33 saves in picking up his sixth win of the season.

Curry played host to the Foresters on Sunday and saw four different goal scorers in the second period provide enough margin for Frank Cundiff in goal, who made 38 saves in the 4-2 win for the Colonels.

Hamilton and Skidmore played a home-and-home series over the weekend, with the Continentals picking up a pair of wins by scores of 5-1 and 4-0. Hamilton’s Nick Ursitti picked up a pair of goals in the Saturday game, while T.J. Daigler added a pair in the 4-0 win where Anthony Tirabassi made 31 stops to earn the shutout.

No. 4 Endicott traveled to Amherst in what proved to be a playoff-style game and a great New Year’s present for the fans. Jack Fitzgerald gave the Mammoths a first-period lead that stood until the third period when Jack Kilty scored for the Gulls to tie the game at 1-1. Neither team could solve the other goalie in regulation time, but Luke Rodgers won it for the Gulls with just over two minutes remaining in overtime. Mark Specia (28 saves) out-dueled Giancarlo Ventre (36 saves) to pick up the win and move Endicott to 13-1-0 on the season.

A six-goal second period broke open a 1-0 Wesleyan advantage at Post, where the Cardinals cruised to an 8-2 win. Six different players scored for the Cardinals in the middle stanza as Wesleyan moved to 4-1-3 on the season.

Three Biscuits
Stephen Klein, Middlebury: He backstopped the Panthers to wins over St. Michael’s and Oswego to win the Middlebury classic. Klein stopped 65 of 68 shots in the two games while earning a shutout in the 4-0 win over the Purple Knights.
Blake Wojtala, Salve Regina: The Seahawks netminder was the star of the tournament in the Codfish Bowl, where he made 79 saves in recording wins over No. 2 Adrian and No. 5 Massachusetts-Boston.
Luke Rodgers, Endicott: Rodgers scored the overtime game-winning goal as Endicott downed Amherst 2-1 to earn its 13th win of the season.

There were only a few teams in action and more holiday tournament fare in the week upcoming, including the Boston Landing Collegiate Invitational in Boston, the Pathfinder Bank/Oswego State Hockey Classic, the W. B. Mason Winter Classic at Plattsburgh, and the Northfield Savings Bank Holiday Tournament at Norwich. Some great fields among the tournaments and a great chance to catch some terrific hockey if you are in the area.