WINCHENDON, Mass. (November 6, 2018) – Heading into Tuesday, the Franklin Pierce University men's ice hockey team was 0-19-0 in 19 tries against 10-time Northeast-10 Conference champion Saint Anselm. For its part, the Franklin Pierce women's team was 0-18-1 in 19 attempts against Saint Anselm's women's squad. It all added up to an 0-37-1 ledger in 38 games for Ravens hockey against their intrastate rival.
On Tuesday night, the Franklin Pierce men struck back.
For one night at least, the Ravens were able to erase more than a decade-and-a-half of frustration at the hands of the Hawks. Five different players had multiple points, two scored their first collegiate goal, and the Ravens got four points from its plucky corps of freshmen, to deal visiting Saint Anselm a 5-3 defeat at the Jason Ritchie Ice Arena. Sophomore forward Justin Blanchette (Monroe, Conn.) tallied the game-winning goal in the second period after collecting an assist earlier in the frame, and was one of four Ravens to notch both a goal and an assist.
With the win in its NE10 opener, Franklin Pierce improves to 3-1-0 (1-0-0 NE10), which represents the hottest start in program history. Saint Anselm fell to 1-2-0 (1-1-0 NE10) with the loss.
The Ravens opened the scoring with a bang, with a pair of goals in rapid succession just after the midpoint of the first period. The opener came off of a faceoff in the right-wing circle. Junior forward James Morrissey (West Haven, Conn.) took the draw, and then freshman forward Anthony Nikolopoulos (Burlington, Mass.) tracked down the puck in the right-wing corner. Nikolopoulos swatted it around the end boards, and junior forward Matthew Toombs (Pleasanton, Calif.) chased it down in the left-wing corner. Toombs appeared to be trying to simply throw the puck back out front, but it deflected and wound up in the net anyway, for his first goal of the season, at 10:42.
It took just nine seconds for Franklin Pierce to double the lead to 2-0. Junior forward Alex Lester (Methuen, Mass.) took the ensuing faceoff, which freshman forward Ryan Gorbett (Cleveland Heights, Ohio) controlled and carried into the offensive end. Gorbett quickly found junior forward Cameron Shepardson (Albany, N.Y.) on the doorstep for the latter's first goal of the year, at 10:51.
Saint Anselm would halve the deficit before the first intermission, with a slick passing play in the offensive end. From the left point, freshman forward Anthony Iacullo sent the puck into the middle of the right circle for senior forward Bryan Green. Green quickly slung a pass back across the slot for senior forward Jeremy Carignan, who had an easy finish at the left post, as the whole line got in on the action. It was Carignan's second of the campaign, at 15:32.
The Hawks would tie the game just 77 seconds into the middle period. Junior forward Mike Ferraro forced a turnover and gained possession deep in the left-wing corner. He cut behind the net and stuffed a wraparound attempt home at the right post for his first goal of the season.
Undaunted, Franklin Pierce would reclaim a two-goal lead, with goals at 10:56 and 14:11. First came a play which turned into a bit of a circus after Blanchette forced a turnover at the blue line, on the left-wing side. He then pushed forward and got the puck to Gorbett, who had a head of steam headed towards the net. Gorbett went to the backhand and slipped home his first career goal as he went toppling through the crease.
Less than four minutes later, Blanchette cashed in his first collegiate goal as well, which would stand as the game-winner. On a breakout play, sophomore defenseman Paul Antkowiak (Salem, N.H.) and senior forward Travis Geraci (Old Bridge, N.J.) teamed to work the puck to Blanchette streaking down the right wing. Blanchette made his way into the right circle and then picked the top-left corner, over the glove hand of Saint Anselm freshman goaltender Michal Soustal.
Saint Anselm closed the gap to 4-3 before the second intermission, at 18:11. Sophomore forward Alec Andreucci took control just inside the blue line and left the puck for sophomore forward Matt Chisholm on the right side. Chisholm got to the middle of the right circle and fired a puck across the slot to Andreucci, who had continued on to the middle of the left circle. Andreucci had the one-time finish for his first goal of the year.
Near the 6:30 mark of the third, the Hawks had a great chance to even the score, as Carignan found himself on a breakaway. With the defense closing, he opted to snap a shot from the edge of the left circle, near the hash marks, but was denied by Franklin Pierce sophomore goaltender Ian Wallace (West Islip, N.Y.).
The Ravens notched an important insurance tally less than three minutes later, at 9:04, right off a faceoff. Morrissey won the draw, which allowed Toombs to take possession up high in the zone. Toombs sent his shot towards the net from there, and it was tipped en route by Nikolopoulos, who collected his second goal of the season.
Saint Anselm would later get Soustal to the bench for the final 1:43, but never seriously threatened to score again, as the Ravens skated away winners and took the victory into a jubilant locker room.
Wallace (3-1-0) finished with 31 saves against 34 shots on goal to pick up the win in the crease for Franklin Pierce. Soustal (0-1-0) stopped 28 of 33 shots and suffered the loss in his collegiate debut.
The Ravens return to the ice on Friday, Nov. 9, when they travel to Saint Michael's for an NE10 contest. Opening faceoff is set for 7 p.m. at Cairns Arena in South Burlington, Vermont.
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).