WORCESTER, Mass. (November 25, 2018) – Just a day after grinding out an important Northeast-10 Conference victory, the Franklin Pierce University men's ice hockey team surrendered a 41-26 deficit in shots on goal on Saturday afternoon, in the championship game of the Steve Hoar Invitational, hosted by Becker College. The shots on goal margin spelled a similar disparity in the final score, as Fitchburg State rolled to a 9-1 victory over the Ravens in the non-conference, neutral-site contest at Worcester Ice Center. Sophomore forward Kevin Perry had his first career hat trick in the win for Fitchburg State, while senior forward Nick DiNicola and sophomore forward Sascha Figi each added 1-2-3 for the Falcons.
With the loss, Franklin Pierce falls to 5-4-0, while Fitchburg State improves to 4-3-2.
Fitchburg State – which was allowed to run amok for stretches of the first period on the way to 18 shots on goal in the frame – needed just 84 seconds to open the scoring. DiNicola was able to walk the puck out into the middle of the right-wing circle and throw a shot towards the net. Figi was stationed at the right post and was credited with his team-leading seventh goal of the season, as he tipped the shot home. Senior defenseman Connor McPherson tacked on an assist as well, at the 1:24 mark.
Through the middle of the period, the Ravens were able to settle in after the harried opening minutes, but Fitchburg State would strike again at 15:02 to take a 2-0 lead into the first intermission. The Franklin Pierce defense was caught running around in its own end, which allowed the Falcons to turn the attack zone into a shooting gallery. Senior forward Patrick Germain teed up the opening salvo from the right point, and the rebound wound up with freshman forward Ryan Murphy in the left circle. Murphy's shot from there was also stymied, but the third time would be the charm. Senior forward Brandon Ecklund was just outside the crease on the right side and lifted home a backhand finish for his first goal of the campaign.
Over the final 11 seconds of the first period and the opening 1:49 of the second period, Franklin Pierce had a full two minutes of two-man advantage, as Fitchburg State was hit with coinciding slashing penalties near the end of the first. The Ravens could not convert on the power play statistically, but did cash in just as the penalties expired, for what was an even-strength goal in name only. From the right point, junior forward Matthew Toombs (Pleasanton, Calif.) sent the puck to junior forward Alex Lester (Methuen, Mass.), who was off to the right-wing side of the net. Lester put his shot off the pads of Fitchburg State sophomore goaltender Brian McGrath, and junior forward James Morrissey (West Haven, Conn.) cleaned up the rebound on the left side for his fourth goal of the year.
Unfortunately for the Ravens, the wheels fell off from there. Fitchburg State struck three times in a span of just 5:38 to surge to a 5-1 lead. On the power play at the 4:33 mark, Figi took a shot from the top of the right circle which was tipped en route by junior forward Christopher Vicario for the latter's second goal of the season. At 7:44, sophomore forward Kevin Perry jammed home a rebound out front for his first of the year. Finally, Ecklund led a 2-on-1 into the offensive end on the right side. He slipped a pass across the slot for senior forward Mike Fretz, who buried the one-time finish for his first of the season as well.
It was more of the same in the third period, as Fitchburg State poured in four more goals on the way to the 9-1 final. Fretz put home his second of the day at 3:24, while DiNicola completed his three-point outing with his fourth goal of the season at 8:03. Perry completed his hat trick with an even-strength tally at 14:10 and a power-play marker at 16:10 to round out the scoring.
Sophomore goaltender Ian Wallace (West Islip, N.Y.) started in net for Franklin Pierce and would suffer the loss (4-4-0). He made 22 saves against 27 shots and departed after the fifth Fitchburg State goal. Freshman netminder Adam Carman (Vestal, N.Y.) logged the final 29:49 and made 10 saves against 14 shots. At the other end of the ice, McGrath (4-2-2) stopped 25 of 26 shots to pick up the win for Fitchburg State. McGrath was named the Most Valuable Player of the Steve Hoar Invitational after the conclusion of play.
The Ravens return to the ice on Saturday, Dec. 1, when they travel to Southern New Hampshire for an NE10 contest. Opening faceoff is set for 6:40 p.m. at the Ice Den in Manchester, New Hampshire.
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).