Men’s Hockey: Cadets End First Semester With 7-2 Win over St. Mike’s

Courtesy St. Michael’s Sports Information

SOUTH BURLINGTON – The Saint Michael’s College men’s ice hockey team played its final home game until mid-January on Wednesday, falling to No. 12 Norwich University, 7-2, in Cairns Arena during New England Hockey Conference (NEHC) action. The Purple Knights, who trailed by two goals until the final six minutes, completed a five-game stretch during which four games were against nationally-ranked Division III foes.

Saint Michael’s is 2-10 overall and 1-8 in the league. The Cadets, who qualified for the last six NCAA Tournaments and were 12th in both Division III national polls, improved to 8-4 and 6-3.

Junior Danny Divis (Media, Pa./Minnesota Wilderness) and sophomore Eric Salzillo (Johnston, R.I./Boston Bandits) both scored for the hosts, with Salzillo going 7-for-15 on faceoffs. Senior Nick Potter (Stoneham, Mass./The Brooks School) was 14-for-24 at the dot, and first-year Chris Johnson (Duxbury, Mass./Pomfret School) made 30 saves for his fifth 30-stop outing of his rookie season.

Junior Tyler Piacentini (South Weymouth, Mass./South Shore Kings) recorded two goals and two assists for Norwich, sophomore Kevin Salvucci (Plymouth, Mass./Baystate Breakers) totaled two goals and a helper, and junior Paul Russell (Andover, Mass./Boston Junior Bruins) notched a goal and an assist. Classmate Brian Rowland (Waltham, Mass./Buckingham Browne & Nichols) and sophomore Payton Baldillez (Arlington, Texas/New Hampshire Junior Monarchs) also scored, first-year Austin Evans (Whistler, British Columbia/Flin Flon Bombers) dished off three assists, and sophomore Braeden Ostepchuk (Lethbridge, Alberta/Selkirk Steelers) recorded 23 stops.

Purple Knight senior Mike Schreiner (Saint Albans, Vt./Norwich) had a point-blank chance two minutes into the contest after receiving a pass in the slot, but Ostepchuk came out to challenge and make the save. The Purple Knights broke on the board soon thereafter, as Divis picked up the puck at the blue line, deked a pair of Cadets, and scored from up close with 3:49 gone. Norwich had a chance to knot the game at 11:20, but a player missed an open net at the left post off a one-time pass and with Johnson sliding in the opposite direction. After Saint Michael’s took five of the first six shots, the visitors held an 11-5 edge for the remainder of the period. Johnson made a pair of stops on shots from the left point through traffic around the 13-minute mark, and among his three stops in an ensuing Cadet power play was a point-blank save of Salvucci at 15:00, but Rowland knotted the game during the same man advantage. After Johnson turned away Piacentini’s initial shot, the rebound came out toward the left circle, where Rowland sent home his tally at 16:17. In the final 30 seconds, Johnson made a right toe save after Evans sent a shot on net directly off a faceoff.

First-year Sam D’Antuono (Hingham, Mass./Dexter School) had his backhander from up close while rushing the left side of the cage deflect off of Ostepchuk and ring the left post at 6:30 of the second period, and junior Anthony Maiuri (Boxford, Mass./New Hampton School) was stopped out front off a scramble at the nine-minute mark. Ten seconds later, Johnson saved first-year Dave Robertson’s (Boissevain, Manitoba/Steinbach Pistons) blast from the left point through traffic out front. Norwich snapped the tie with a pair of goals in a matter of 2:03 during the latter portion of the period. With Saint Michael’s on a power play and Salvucci pressuring Johnson, the goalie played the puck up the wall out toward the blue line, where Piacentini kept the puck in the zone and returned a pass out front to Salvucci, who put a move on Johnson to find an open net at 11:57 for the shorthanded marker. At the 14-minute mark, Piacentini hit the upper left corner directly off of junior Anthony Flaherty’s (South Boston, Mass./South Shore Kings) faceoff win.

Norwich extended its lead to 4-1 5:58 into the third period, as Evans drove into the slot and dished off to his left for Salvucci, who one-timed his goal from in close. Russell rushed alone into the Purple Knight zone to make a shorthanded bid at 12:30, but Johnson came up with the save, and the hosts trimmed the deficit just seconds later, as Salzillo put home a rebound at the right post with 12:52 gone. Juniors Connor Mitchell (New Milford, Conn./Kent School) and Shawn Morrow (East Greenbush, N.Y./Kent School) assisted, drawing Saint Michael’s within 4-2. Norwich countered a little more than a minute later, as Johnson stopped Evans’ initial shot, but Russell rung the rebound off the post and in at 14:00. The 5-2 lead stood until the final minute, when Piacentini roofed a shot from the doorstep at 19:09.3 and Baldillez was credited with a tally at 19:44.5 after his cross-crease pass deflected off a Saint Michael’s skater and in.

The Purple Knights conclude their first-semester schedule on Saturday at Assumption College, with the Northeast-10 Conference contest beginning at 6:35 p.m. Norwich is off until January 2nd when they host Wesleyan in the first round of the Northfield Savings Bank Holiday Tournament.

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