Men’s Hockey: Four Power-Play Goals, Johnson’s 22-Save Third Period Lifts Saint Michael’s to 4-2 Win

Courtesy St. Michael’s Sports Information

SOUTH BURLINGTON — The Saint Michael’s College men’s ice hockey team rode four power-play goals and a 22-save, shutout third period by sophomore Chris Johnson (Duxbury, Mass./Pomfret School) to down Assumption College, 4-2, during the teams’ Northeast-10 Conference openeron Tuesday at Cairns Arena. Both teams are 2-2 overall, as the Purple Knights improved to 10-1 in the all-time series at Cairns Arena.


Sophomore Sam D’Antuono (Hingham, Mass./Dexter School) had a goal, two assists and a 19-for-38 showing on faceoffs to lead Saint Michael’s, which held Assumption’s league-leading power-play unit (32.1%) to an 0-for-9 performance with the man advantage. The Purple Knights went 4-of-9.


Junior Eric Salzillo (Johnston, R.I./Boston Bandits) notched a goal, an assist and a 12-for-24 effort on draws, while sophomore Nic Hermary (Coquitlam, British Columbia/Melfort Mustangs) and first-year John Barry (South Boston, Mass./Deerfield Academy) also scored, with Barry netting his initial goal in his first college game. Johnson finished with 36 saves for his 15th career 30-stop outing, and senior Shawn Morrow (East Greenbush, N.Y./Kent School) dished off two assists.


Senior Ryan Gomez and sophomore Peter McDonagh both scored for Assumption, while sophomore Brian Nazzaro had 32 stops, including 28 in the first two periods alone. The teams both attempted 36 shots.


Saint Michael’s held an 11-5 advantage in first-period shots, but Assumption carried a 2-1 into the intermission. Sophomore Patrick Doherty (Tewksbury, Mass./Middlesex Black Bears) nearly broke the deadlock just 33 seconds into the contest but was denied from the left circle by Nazzaro’s glove save. Gomez made it 1-0 at 1:52 by one-timing home junior Cam Laughlin’s cross to the left post, but Salzillo potted his own one-timer from the high slot at 5:35 on a power play, with D’Antuono dishing from the left circle. Morrow also assisted. Gomez rung the crossbar from the right circle just 20 seconds later.


Sophomore Colin Biebel (Roxborough Park, Colo./Walpole Express) was stopped by another Nazzaro glove save with a shot from the hash marks at 11:28, and the Greyhounds went back ahead at 13:55 when McDonagh skated from the neutral zone past Purple Knight defenders on his backhand, only switching to his customary lefty forehand when reaching the right circle, slipping a shot far side past Johnson.


The hosts netted three power-play goals in the second stanza during a seven-minute span, with two coming after a major penalty was assessed. D’Antuono was denied from the high slot by Nazzaro’s blocker 1:05 into the second period, and senior Danny Divis (Media, Pa./Minnesota Wilderness) rung the post at 9:00 at the beginning of the five-minute man advantage, but Barry tipped home Salzillo’s blast from the hash marks just 11 seconds later. Divis picked up the secondary assist.


Johnson stopped senior Stephen Picard with his blocker during a 1-on-1 break at 9:55 to keep his team in front, and Hermary deflected in Morrow’s blast from the blue line at 11:57. D’Antuono also gathered a helper. On another man advantage in the latter portion of the stanza, D’Antuono put home a loose puck at the left post at 16:11 after Biebel and senior Stephen Inman (Coventry, R.I./Odessa Jackalopes) both got touches.


In the third period, Assumption put together a 22-4 advantage in shots, but Johnson denied each attempt, including making four stops alone during one early man disadvantage, with the fourth a pad stop of a Laughlin shot. On a breakaway at 4:41, Johnson turned away junior Mike Sorenti’s bid, and the goalie made a glove save on Laughlin’s blast from the right circle with 5:12 gone.


Saint Michael’s killed off 1:14 of a 5-on-3 Assumption power play that began at 7:50, with Johnson turning aside the only shot he faced, and the Greyhounds pulled their goalie at 17:40 when a Purple Knight was put in the penalty box, giving them a two-man edge, but Johnson went into a split to make a glove stop at 18:33. Another Saint Michael’s penalty made it 6-on-3 Assumption with 50 seconds remaining, and Johnson recorded another five saves between that point and the time the final buzzer sounded.


The Purple Knights hit the road for their next four games, kicking off the road trip at New England College on Friday at 7 p.m.