SOUTH BURLINGTON, Vt. - Junior Sam D'Antuono (Hingham, Mass./Dexter School) scored his second goal 10:01 into overtime to send second-seeded Saint Michael's College men's ice hockey past No. 3 Assumption College, 6-5, during a Northeast-10 Conference Championship semifinal on Saturday in Cairns Arena.
D'Antuono's tally helped the Purple Knights, now 15-9-2, finish off a comeback from down two goals in the third period. With No. 1 Saint Anselm College defeating No. 4 Southern New Hampshire University, 3-1, in the other semifinal, Saint Michael's will visit Saint Anselm for the championship game next Saturday at 3:30 p.m., as the teams will square off in the postseason for the 10th time in 19 years, including for the seventh time in a title game. The Greyhounds finished the season 15-10-2.
D'Antuono added a 20-for-39 showing on faceoffs, first-year defenseman Andrew Olevitz (Winthrop, Mass./Northern Cyclones) turned in a goal and an assist, while senior Eric Salzillo (Johnston, R.I./Boston Bandits) had a goal and 14 faceoff victories. Sophomore John Barry (South Boston, Mass./Deerfield Academy) and first-year Thomas Flack (Toronto, Ontario/Saint Michael's Buzzers) also scored, while senior defenseman Nathan Foice (Essex, Vt./The Winchendon School) had two assists and five blocks, while junior Nic Hermary (Coquitlam, British Columbia/Melfort Mustangs) dished off two assists.
Sophomore Tim Decker (Liverpool, N.Y./Canterbury School) made 22 saves on 24 shots during the final 49:58 to pick up the win in relief, while junior Chris Johnson (Duxbury, Mass./Pomfret School) recorded 10 stops. First-year Niall Foster (Newmarket, N.H./Walpole Express) turned in a 10-for-17 faceoff performance, and senior Keegan Finn (Yarmouth, Mass./Bay State Breakers) blocked three shots.
The contest was a rematch of the 2017 NE10 title game, won by Assumption in overtime, and snapped a run of the past four meetings being won by the visitor. Saint Michael's moved to 9-3-1 in its last 13 games, downing a Greyhound squad that had been 9-2 since losing twice to the Purple Knights on Jan. 12-13. Saint Michael's has now advanced to the NE10 championship game each of the past four times it has qualified for the postseason, and will play in its 11th conference tournament title contest, including 10th since 2002. The Purple and Gold is 13-5 in the postseason in Cairns Arena, including 8-1 during semifinals. D'Antuono's winner pushed the Purple Knights' record to 5-2 in overtime contests during its NE10 Championship history.
Senior Cam Laughlin paced Assumption with a hat trick and an assist, junior Peter McDonagh added a goal and two helpers, while senior Tommy Mahoney also scored. Sophomore David Zulauf made 59 saves.
Finn had the first good opportunity in overtime, being denied up close at 1:50, before Hermary's shot through traffic at 4:36 was stopped. Decker made a glove save after sophomore John McDonagh's full-ice rush and shot from the slot on a counter attack, and the goalie also stopped sophomore Matt Drake with his right pad at 8:30 near the right post. After the Greyhounds had difficulty clearing the puck out of their zone, Foice and Hermary lent a hand to set up D'Antuono, who went bar down for the winner with 10:01 gone from the slot.
Just 27 seconds into the game, Peter McDonagh one-timed home a shot from the left circle after receiving Laughlin's pass from the left corner. Zulauf came up with consecutive stops a little more than six and a half minutes in, first deflecting away first-year Paul McAuliffe's (Newton, Mass./Kimball Union Academy) shot from the right circle before catching Salzillo's drive from the same spot with his body. At 7:15, Zulauf extended his right pad to deny Finn's bid from out front. During a Saint Michael's power play at 11:30, Salzillo was stopped on an initial try when sophomore Robert Roche covered an empty net before Hermary had a follow-up shot saved.
Johnson dove to the right post to deny Laughlin's rebound at 13:09, keeping it 1-0, but Assumption pushed the lead to 2-0 at 15:37 when Mahoney put home a third effort following two Johnson saves, including a stop from the split position, picking the upper right corner from the slot. D'Antuono picked the upper left from the left circle at 17:10, slipping the puck over Zulauf's blocker, after taking Hermary's cross-ice pass. However, the Greyhounds converted on a power play just 1:01 later, as Laughlin tipped home senior Matt Cowles' blast from the blue line.
Hermary had a shot kicked away at the midway point of the second period before D'Antuono saw Zulauf knock away his shot with his mask at 10:39, and senior Sam Finkelstein's (South Burlington, Vt./Rice Memorial Prep) rebound bid out front was stifled. Flack created a 3-2 margin at 11:03, going five hole from the slot after taking Finn's pass from the left corner. Decker kept it a one-goal margin around 14:30, stopping a redirected shot through a screen before making a pad save of an ensuing quick shot. Foice had a one-timer at the right side of the crease stopped at 14:50, and Finkelstein pushed a shot on an open net off the side of the cage from a tough angle.
Decker made two more nice stops around 15:45, denying senior Mike Sorenti from the left circle before going into a split deep in his crease to save sophomore Matt Drake's shot. McAuliffe's tying bid from the low right circle at 18:16 was stopped, and Assumption doubled its lead on a power play at 18:56, with Laughlin knocking in a rebound at the left side of the crease. The Greyhounds led 4-2 going into the third period.
After Hermary saw back-to-back point-blank shots saved at 7:41 of the third period, the Purple Knights scored three goals in a matter of 6:51 to grab the lead. During a man advantage, Olevitz had a one-timer from the right point stopped, but Barry knocked the rebound into the left side of the net from out front at 7:52. Decker made a kick save of a shot from the left point with 8:46 gone, and the netminder covered a loose puck drifting toward an open net after Mahoney's shot from up close. Olevitz found the equalizer at 11:53, corralling a loose puck in neutral ice and skating into the Assumption zone before picking the upper left corner from the right circle.
Salzillo put the hosts up with another power-play goal at 14:43, spinning in the left circle and slipping a shot through Zulauf. However, Laughlin tied the game just 26 seconds later, tipping home a 2-on-1 pass at the left post after Peter McDonagh's cross-crease pass. McAuliffe had a go-ahead bid waffle boarded away from the left circle at 15:57, and Decker made two saves in the final 23.1 seconds, including kicking away Cowles' shot from the left point with less than a second to go, sending the teams to overtime.