FITCHBURG, Mass. (November 7, 2017) – Trailing 3-2 entering the final period on the road on Tuesday night, the Franklin Pierce University men's ice hockey team struck for three third period goals -- including an empty-net goal credited to the goaltender -- to pick up the team's first win of the season, 5-3, over Fitchburg State. Senior forward Jonathan Haun (Buffalo, N.Y.) and sophomore defenseman Jonathan Busolin (Goose Creek, S.C.) scored the tying and winning goals, respectively, to rally the Ravens in non-conference play at Wallace Civic Center.
With the win, Franklin Pierce improves to 1-2-0, while Fitchburg State falls to 2-1-1. The victory marked the first career win for Franklin Pierce first-year head coach Shaun Millerick. It also represented Franklin Pierce's first-ever win against Fitchburg State, in the 16th all-time meeting between the two teams.
Fitchburg State opened the scoring in a back-and-forth first period with a power-play goal at the 9:11 mark. Junior forward Nick DiNicola worked the puck to junior defenseman Ricky Kramer at the center of the blue line. While gliding backwards, towards the left point, Kramer wristed a puck softly towards the net, clearly looking for a deflection. A deflection was exactly what he would find, as freshman forward Sascha Figi got his stick to the puck and redirected it along the ice and inside the left post for his fourth goal of the season.
Franklin Pierce evened things up just 52 seconds later, at 10:03. Busolin attempted to hit sophomore forward James Morrissey (West Haven, Conn.) through the neutral zone, with a pass which would have sprung the latter on a breakaway, but Busolin narrowly overshot his target. Morrissey beat out the potential icing call and ran the puck down behind the net. Just to the left-wing side of the goal, he turned and found the trailer on the play, sophomore forward Alex Lester (Methuen, Mass.), who buried a one-timer from the top of the crease for his third goal of the campaign.
Fitchburg State would take a 2-1 lead into the first intermission, on the strength of a shorthanded goal at 17:11. A failed pinch by a Franklin Pierce defenseman resulted in a rush up the ice, which turned into a 2-on-1 through the neutral zone and into the offensive end. From the right side, Kramer slipped a pass over to senior forward Corey Hayashi on the left side. The latter snapped home his second of the year from just below the faceoff dot in the left-wing circle.
Just 83 seconds into the second period, the Falcons pushed the lead out to 3-1. Junior defenseman Blaise Kilroy (Spring City, Pa.) got tangled up with sophomore forward Christopher Vicario in the neutral zone, and the former went down, leading to a 3-on-1 into the offensive end for Fitchburg State. Vicario led the rush for the Falcons on the right side and eventually centered for DiNicola, who had the one-touch finish at the top of the crease. Freshman defenseman Spencer Segui picked up an assist as well, on DiNicola's second of the year.
Franklin Pierce pulled back within a goal at the 9:15 mark. Junior forward Travis Geraci (Old Bridge, N.J.) won a footrace to the puck in the right-wing corner and took it behind the net with a head of steam. As he exited on the left-wing side of the cage, he threw the puck out front. Senior forward Blake Manginell (Troy, Mich.) jammed at the puck first, before sophomore forward Shepheard Stahel (Plano, Texas) ultimately finished things off amid a goalmouth scramble, for his first of the season.
The Ravens drew even at 7:58 of the third period, in a delayed penalty situation. Deep in the offensive end, sophomore forward Matthew Toombs (Pleasanton, Calif.) slipped a pass to Lester at the bottom of the right-wing circle. Lester's shot from there was stopped by Fitchburg State junior goaltender Kirby Saari, but the rebound came back into the right-wing circle. Despite the attempt of a Falcon defenseman to tie him up, Fotiu was able to get a stick to the puck and touch it towards the slot, where Haun was waiting to bury a one-time shot for his first goal of the year.
Franklin Pierce would score again at 9:58, just as the ensuing power play expired, to jump to a 4-3 lead. Working his way down the right-wing half boards, Lester left the puck from Fotiu. Fotiu curled into the circle and sent a pass across the high slot to Busolin at the top of the left-wing circle. Busolin's one-timer found the back of the net for the eventual game-winning goal, and was his second goal of the season.
With an offensive-zone faceoff coming with just 2:12 remaining, Fitchburg State used its timeout and pulled Saari in favor of the extra attacker, which would ultimately lead to an empty net goal for Franklin Pierce. After a flurry of action in front of the Ravens' net, the puck came to the right-wing corner, where DiNicola tracked it down. DiNicola quickly turned to fling a pass back to the right point, but missed his target. The Falcons could only watch helplessly, as the errant pass carried all the way down and into the vacated goal to increase the Franklin Pierce lead to 5-3.
Franklin Pierce senior goaltender Austin Christopher (Winthrop, Maine) had been the last Raven to touch the puck and, as a result, was credited with his first career goal. He became the first goalie in the history of Franklin Pierce hockey -- men's or women's -- to be credited with a goal.
Christopher (1-0-0) finished with 27 saves against 30 shots to pick up the win in the crease for Franklin Pierce. Saari (1-1-1) stopped 26 of 30 shots he faced and suffered the loss for Fitchburg State.
The Ravens return to the ice on Saturday, Nov. 11, when they return home to host Saint Michael's in their Northeast-10 Conference opener. Opening faceoff is set for 5 p.m. at Jason Ritchie Ice Arena in Winchendon, Mass.
For more information on Franklin Pierce Athletics, please visit the official website of Franklin Pierce Athletics (http://athletics.franklinpierce.edu). Also be sure to follow the Ravens through the Department of Athletics' official Facebook page (http://www.facebook.com/FranklinPierceRavens), its YouTube channel (http://www.youtube.com/franklinpiercesports) and its Twitter feed (http://twitter.com/FPUathletics). Fans wishing to purchase Franklin Pierce ice hockey apparel can do so at the Department of Athletics' online store (http://athletics.franklinpierce.edu/store).