WORCESTER, Mass. (November 24, 2018) – A week after suffering a four-goal defeat on the road at Stonehill, the Franklin Pierce University men's ice hockey team struck back against the Skyhawks in a neutral-site Northeast-10 Conference affair on Saturday afternoon. Three different goal-scorers found the net, and sophomore goaltender Ian Wallace (West Islip, N.Y.) made 37 saves, as the Ravens picked up a 3-1 win in the first round of the Steve Hoar Invitational, hosted by Becker College at Fidelity Bank Worcester Ice Center.
With the win, Franklin Pierce improves to 5-3-0 (2-2-0 NE10), while Stonehill falls to 1-4-0 (1-3-0 NE10). Despite being a neutral-site game at an in-season tournament, the Ravens and Skyhawks agreed in the offseason to contest the game as one of their three NE10 meetings of the year.
Franklin Pierce advances to play in the championship game of the Steve Hoar Invitational, with puck drop set for 4 p.m. on Sunday at Worcester Ice Center. The Ravens will face the winner of Saturday's second first-round game, which featured Fitchburg State and host Becker. As of press time, Fitchburg State held a 3-2 lead in the second intermission. Franklin Pierce will be playing for the first in-season tournament title in program history, as the Ravens have settled for consolation-game appearances in each of their three previous tournament appearances.
Stonehill is slated to participate in Sunday's consolation game, which is set for 1 p.m. The Skyhawks will face the loser of the Fitchburg State vs. Becker contest.
Franklin Pierce had the only two goals of the first period on Saturday, as the only team to capitalize on a high-flying stanza which saw each side record 13 shots on goal. Both goals came off of Stonehill defensive-zone turnovers, including the opener, at the 6:05 mark. An odd bounce near the blue line left freshman forward Danny O'Connell (Natick, Mass.) with a bead on a loose puck near the top of the left-wing circle. He had a shooting lane when he reached the puck and rifled it inside the right post for his first collegiate goal. Junior forward Alex Lester (Methuen, Mass.) and junior defenseman Mark Indelicato (Pembroke, Mass.) were credited with assists on the play.
The second goal came as the result of an even more brutal turnover for the Skyhawk defense, which coughed up the puck below the faceoff dots in its own end. The sequence quickly led to the puck being shuttled to freshman forward Anthony Nikolopoulos (Burlington, Mass.), who was unmarked and stationed between the hash marks. He buried a shot into the top-right corner for his team-leading fifth goal of the season to double the lead. Junior forward Matthew Toombs (Pleasanton, Calif.) tallied the lone assist on the play, as he had a hand in forcing the turnover.
In a second period where the teams combined for 23 more shots, Franklin Pierce was the only team to find the net once again, to push the lead out to 3-0 before the second intermission. The goal came at 13:09, in a delayed-penalty situation. Lester drew the penalty, as he was fouled and lost control of the puck while headed towards the net in the left circle. Lester wound up regaining control before Stonehill could gain possession, but did so after he was already behind the goal line on the left-wing side. Lester turned and threw the puck out front anyway, and it managed to pinball its way off the goalie and defense and into the net for the alternate captain's second goal of the season, unassisted.
Stonehill would post a 13-3 advantage in shots in the third period and mustered the frame's only goal, but it would not be enough to get the Skyhawks back into the game. The goal came just after the midpoint of the period, after the play devolved into a scramble in front of the Franklin Pierce net. Junior forward Ryan Meade was the first to fish the puck out, at the top of the crease on the left side, but had his initial shot stymied by Wallace. The rebound came right back to Meade, who had drifted out into the left-wing circle, and he snapped his third goal of the season home over the indisposed defense at 10:26.
Stonehill struggled to maintain possession late in the frame, which hindered the team's ability to get junior goaltender Matthew Schoen off the ice in favor of the extra attacker. The Skyhawks managed to get Schoen to the bench for only the game's final 92 seconds. They then generated four shots in the final 70 seconds, but Wallace turned them all aside to preserve the 3-1 victory.
Wallace (4-3-0) bounced back nicely, after being pulled in each of his previous two starts and allowing a combined nine goals in the two outings. He went the distance on Saturday and chalked up 37 saves against 38 shots to pick up the win. Schoen (0-1-0) finished with 24 saves against 27 shots and suffered the loss in his first start of the season.
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).