WINCHENDON, Mass. (January 26, 2019) – The first two periods were quiet on Saturday night at the Jason Ritchie Ice Arena, with a large, Athletes Backing Athletes night crowd left without much to cheer about. That would change in a big way in the third period, as the Franklin Pierce University men's ice hockey team poured in four goals to deal a 4-0 defeat to visiting Assumption in Northeast-10 Conference play. Senior forward Nate Indelicato (Pembroke, Mass.) scored twice for the Ravens and junior forward Alex Lester (Methuen, Mass.) dished out three assists, while freshman goaltender Kyle Martin (Westford, Mass.) posted a 28-save shutout.
With the win, Franklin Pierce improves to 9-10-1 (4-5-1 NE10), while Assumption falls to 12-6-1 (5-5-1 NE10). With the victory, Franklin Pierce has matched the program record for wins in a season, with six games still remaining.
As the first two periods went by the boards without any scoring, it appeared missed opportunities might be the storyline of the night, as Franklin Pierce came up empty on five power-play chances through two frames. The Ravens got nothing on their sixth man-advantage as well, before finally breaking through on the seventh, to open the scoring at the 4:19 mark of the third.
Junior defenseman Mark Indelicato (Pembroke, Mass.) had the initial shot on the play, which went wide of the target. Ultimately, the puck wound up back out in front, and a veritable pig pile took place in the Assumption crease, as forwards and defensemen alike hacked at the puck. Lester, Nate Indelicato and senior forward Nicholas Fotiu (Falmouth, Mass.) were all hammering away on behalf of the Ravens, and it was Indelicato who ultimately put the puck home for his sixth goal of the season, while the other two picked up assists as consolation prizes.
The Ravens made it 2-0 less than two minutes later, at the 6:11 mark. In the neutral zone, Nate Indelicato feathered a pass ahead for Lester, who got a step on his marker and crashed towards the net on a breakaway. Lester's charge was parried aside by Assumption junior goaltender David Zulauf, but the latter was forced out of position as the rebound lay outside the top of the crease. This left an all-but-vacant net for the trailer, junior forward Matthew Toombs (Pleasanton, Calif.), who slammed his fourth of the season into the back of the cage.
It would be three goals in 6:29, as Franklin Pierce struck again at 10:48. On the forecheck, freshman forward Chris Stevenson (Arvada, Colo.) forced a turnover at the Assumption blue line, which allowed Lester to take possession and curl into the middle of the right circle. With Nate Indelicato crashing the net from the left side, Lester put the puck towards the goal from there. As he cut across the top of the crease, Indelicato was able to deflect the puck past Zulauf to complete his first multiple-goal game in nearly two calendar years. He last scored at least twice at Post on Feb. 1, 2017, when he notched a hat trick.
The icing on the cake came in the form of an empty-net goal at the 17:55 mark. Sophomore defenseman Paul Antkowiak (Salem, N.H.) gained possession deep in his own end and moved the puck up the boards to freshman forward Anthony Nikolopoulos (Burlington, Mass.). Nikolopoulos sent a backhand attempt the length of the ice, which was nearly chased down at the end by the Assumption defense, but the puck eventually puttered into the yawning net for his seventh goal of the year.
Meanwhile, Martin (4-1-0) was busy stopping all 28 shots sent his way to post his first collegiate shutout. It was the first shutout of the season for Franklin Pierce, which has often struggled in the shot-prevention department. Saturday night marked just the second time this season the Ravens held an opponent to fewer than 30 shots on goal.
At the other end of the ice, Zulauf (10-5-1) made 28 saves against 31 shots and suffered the loss for Assumption.
The Ravens return to the ice on Tuesday, Jan. 29, when they travel to Post for a non-conference contest. Opening faceoff is set for 7:30 p.m. at Sports Center of Connecticut in Shelton, Conn.
For more information on Franklin Pierce Athletics, please visit the official website of Franklin Pierce Athletics (https://www.fpuravens.com). 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 hockey apparel can do so at the Department of Athletics' online store (https://www.fpuravens.com/store).