WINCHENDON, Mass. (November 8, 2019) – It was The George Thurston Show on Friday night at the Jason Ritchie Ice Arena. The Southern New Hampshire freshman forward put home the first four goals of his career, as he all but single-handedly dealt the Franklin Pierce University men's ice hockey team a 5-1 loss in the Northeast-10 Conference opener for both schools. Franklin Pierce was unable to stay out of the penalty box throughout the contest and was equally unable to kill the penalties it took, as SNHU finished 4-for-8 on the power play to cruise to the victory.
With the loss, Franklin Pierce falls to 0-2-0 (0-1-0 NE10), while Southern New Hampshire improves to 2-1-0 (1-0-0 NE10). The two teams will meet for a home-and-home series on Jan. 24-25 to round out the season series.
SNHU opened the scoring with a pair of power-play tallies in the latter half of the first period. The Penmen needed just a combined 91 seconds to convert on their first two chances with the man-advantage. The first strike came at the 14:38 mark, with senior forward Alex Lester (Methuen, Mass.) in the box for hooking. From the left point, junior defenseman Max Kent sent the puck over to the right point for sophomore defenseman Alex Ring. Ring put a shot into traffic from there, and it deflected off the stick of a Franklin Pierce defenseman and over the shoulder of junior goaltender Ian Wallace (West Islip, N.Y.) for Ring's first goal of the season. Freshman forward Matt Monreal provided a helper as well.
Less than five minutes later, at 19:26, the Penmen doubled the lead after senior defenseman Mark Indelicato (Pembroke, Mass.) was sent off for cross checking. From the right point, sophomore defenseman Joe Fiorino slid a pass to the left point for freshman forward James Nash. Nash fired the puck from there and it was tipped out front by Thurston, who picked up his first collegiate score.
Another power-play tally at 6:51 of the second, after a penalty for too many men on the ice, made it 3-0. Nash started things in the left circle, with a pass to the middle of the blue line for Fiorino. Fiorino's shot from there was wide left, but the rebound off the end boards came to the left post, where Thurston put it away.
Franklin Pierce cut the gap to 3-1 in a 4-on-4 situation at 5:07 of the third, courtesy of a highlight-reel goal from Lester. After sophomore forward Chris Stevenson (Arvada, Colo.) sent the puck ahead in the neutral zone, Lester carried into the offensive end on the left-wing side. Showcasing his skills as the reigning NE10 Player of the Year, Lester made an outside-in move to handily elude the defenseman pressuring him, carried into the middle of the circle and snapped a shot to the top-right corner for his first goal of the season.
However, SNHU would pick up a pair of insurance markers later in the period to close out the 5-1 win. Just 1:52 after the Lester goal, Thurston capped his hat trick with his third power-play score of the night, with freshman forward Conor Foley (Nahant, Mass.) sitting for a slashing penalty. Sophomore forward Jake Cox did the heavy lifting, working the puck free on the right-wing half-boards. He sent it to the point for Nash, who walked the puck over to the left point. Nash's shot from there was once again tipped home right out front by Thurston.
Not content with three, Thurston made it a four-goal night at the 17:16 mark. Monreal threw the puck towards the net from the left-wing circle, and Cox got a piece of the puck en route. The deflection was not enough to beat Wallace, but Thurston cleaned up the rebound to cap the scoring.
Wallace (0-2-0) finished with 32 saves against 37 shots in the losing effort for Franklin Pierce. Senior Kurt Gutting (1-1-0) collected 33 saves against 34 shots to pick up the win for SNHU.
Franklin Pierce returns to the ice on Saturday, Nov. 9, when they remain home to host Stonehill in an NE10 contest. Game time is set for 7 p.m. at the Jason Ritchie Ice Arena.
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 ice hockey apparel can do so at the Department of Athletics' brand new online store (https://www.shopfpuravens.com).