Men’s Hockey: St. Mike’s Advances to NE-10 Title Game, Beating Stonehill 4-1

Courtesy St. Michael’s Sports Information

COLCHESTER – The second-seeded Saint Michael’s College men’s ice hockey team beat No. 3 Stonehill College, 4-1, during a Northeast-10 Conference Championship semifinal on Saturday at Cairns Arena. The Purple Knights improved to 9-15-2 overall and, with No. 4 Assumption College upsetting No. 1 Saint Anselm College, 4-3, will host the NE10 Championship title game next Saturday at a time to be determined. The Skyhawks ended the year 9-14-4, as Saint Michael’s remained perfect in the teams’ five-game postseason history.


Sophomore Sam D’Antuono (Hingham, Mass./Dexter School) paced Saint Michael’s with a goal and two assists, while senior Josh Dickman (Kapaa, Hawaii/Saint Paul’s School), juniorEric Salzillo (Johnston, R.I./Boston Bandits) and sophomore defender Jack Ouellette (Arlington, Mass./Dexter School) chipped in a goal apiece. Senior Justin McKenzie (Hawthorne, N.J./Don Bosco Prep) went 11-for-19 at the faceoff dot, and Salzillo was 9-of-15. Sophomore Chris Johnson (Duxbury, Mass./Pomfret School)made 32 saves in the win, improving his season total to 801 and joiningSimon Theberge ’02 (837 in 2000-01) and Tyler Bilton ’09 (806 in 2007-08) as the only Purple Knights with 800 stops in one season.


In the Purple Knights’ 350th win since being reestablished as a varsity program in 1982-83, they improved to 18-6-1 at home in postseason play, including 12-4 at Cairns Arena, where they are 7-1 in the semifinals. After tying Saint Anselm for the regular-season title, Saint Michael’s seeks its sixth NE10 postseason crown, and its first since 2008-09. The Purple and Gold finished as the runner-up in 2013-14 and 2014-15.


First-year Ryan Smith scored the lone goal for the Skyhawks, who claimed last year’s NE10 Championship after the title game was canceled due to a health concern breaking out among its slated opponent, Saint Anselm. First-year Connor Jewett went 6-for-12 on faceoffs, and sophomore William Palmer had 46 saves.


A duo of all-conference forwards combined to open the scoring for the Purple Knights, as a D’Antuono shot drew Palmer to the ice to make a save early in the first period during a power play, and Salzillo gathered the rebound and finished at 3:33. Later in the period on a Skyhawk power play, Johnson flashed the leather to deny a shot by first-year Jack Hall at 13:21. The Purple Knights took a 1-0 lead into the locker room.


The Purple Knights limited the Skyhawks to just four shots on goal until midway through the second, as they applied an effective forecheck and spent most of the time in the offensive zone. Dickman gathered his own rebound and finished with a shot as he fell to the ice at 13:29, giving the Purple Knights a 2-0 lead. Johnson denied the next two shots he faced, as Saint Michael’s held Stonehill scoreless in the second.


Smith put Stonehill on the board at 8:52 of the third period, as he skated around back of Johnson’s goal and threw a puck out front that bounced off a Purple Knight defender and in. The Skyhawks went on the power play just 22 seconds later while looking to draw even, but Johnson made a pair of stops, and the man advantage abruptly ended when a Stonehill player was called for a penalty with 51 seconds left in the power play.


Ouellette answered at 14:50, as he rushed down left wing and fired a shot before gathering his own rebound and beating Palmer with a shot high and inside the left post. Stonehill went on the power play at16:17 and pulled Palmer to gain a 6-on-4 advantage in skaters, but D’Antuono added a shorthanded insurance marker 24 seconds later after gathering a loose puck in the neutral zone under pressure and finishing into an empty net.