Men’s Hockey: Salzillo Lifts SMC Over Neumann, 4-2

Courtesy St. Michael’s Sports Information

MIDDLEBURY – On the strength of a three-point game from senior Eric Salzillo (Johnston, R.I./Boston Bandits), the Saint Michael’s College men’s ice hockey team ended 2017 by downing Neumann (Pa.) University, 4-2, on Sunday during the Middlebury College Hockey Classic consolation game in Kenyon Arena. The Purple Knights improved to 6-5-1, while the Knights slipped to 4-7-1.


Salzillo tied career highs with two goals and the three points in addition to going 8-of-15 on faceoffs, while juniorPatrick Doherty (Tewksbury, Mass./Middlesex Black Bears) and first-year Sel Narby (Huntington, N.Y./Connecticut Junior Rangers) also scored. First-year Paul McAuliffe (Newton, Mass./Kimball Union Academy) dished out two assists. Narby was named to the All-Tournament Team, and Doherty joined sophomoreWilliam Santangeli (Oakville, Ontario/Saint Mark’s School) in blocking three shots apiece.


Sophomore Tim Decker (Liverpool, N.Y./Canterbury School) tied his career high with 38 saves and was aided by Purple Knight skaters registering a 15-1 advantage in blocked shots. Junior Sam D’Antuono (Hingham, Mass./Dexter School) went 13-for-21 on faceoffs. Saint Michael’s, which competed in Middlebury’s tournament for the third time in five years, opposed Neumann for the third time, with each occurring at a different Vermont venue. The Purple Knights lead the series, 2-1, with the other win in Essex Junction and the loss in South Burlington.


Sophomore Ryan Swain recorded a goal and an assist for Neumann, and classmate Corey Kennedy also tallied. Senior Sammy Bernard made 29 stops.


McAuliffe nearly broke a scoreless stalemate 3:45 into the contest, receiving a long pass from Decker in the neutral zone and skating through the right circle during a Neumann line change before his shot was stopped as two Knight approached. Swain netted the opening marker at 13:12 during a power play, working a give-and-go out of the right corner with sophomore Thomas Mansbridge before deking to his backhand to beat Decker at the post.


Narby knotted the contest 1:45 into the second period, as his initial shot from the left circle was redirected by Bernard behind the net, where Salzillo and senior Sam Finkelstein (South Burlington, Vt./Rice Memorial Prep)exchanged short passes. Salzillo ultimately made a final pass through the left circle into the slot for a crashing Narby, who put home the equalizer. McAuliffe keyed the go-ahead goal, knocking away a Neumann pass in his own zone before Salzillo possessed into the Knight zone, shifted through the left circle, and wove through two defenders to fire a wrist shot from the slot five-hole at 10:04.


Doherty added to the lead at 8:32 of the third stanza, blocking a pass near his own blue line then fighting for the loose puck at center ice before outracing his man to the Neumann zone, cutting back into the slot and going five-hole. Kennedy made it a 3-2 game at 16:34, tapping in Swain’s pass from the left point from out front, and Decker made a stop at the left post with 1:30 remaining to keep it a one-goal game. With the puck loose shortly thereafter and heading back toward the Saint Michael’s blue line, McAuliffe knocked a lead pass ahead for Salzillo, who skated on an empty Neumann net and scored at 18:55. Senior Keegan Finn (Yarmouth, Mass./Bay State Breakers) kept it a two-goal game by deflecting a Knight shot over a vacated right side of the net with 30 ticks left.


The Purple Knights conclude a four-game stretch against non-conference opponents by hosting Wesleyan University on Wednesday at 7:05 p.m.