|University of New England||Endicott College|
BEVERLY, Mass. — Cam Bleck (CCC 2nd Team) wristed one home from the right circle with 8.7 seconds remaining to lift top-seeded Endicott College to a 5-4 decision against fifth-seeded University of New England and capture the inaugural Commonwealth Coast Conference (CCC) Men’s Ice Hockey Championship on Saturday evening (Mar. 4) at Raymond J. Bourque Arena.
The result gives the Gulls (23-3-2) — ranked at No.9 in the latest USCHO.com Top 15 Poll — the CCC’s automatic berth into the NCAA Division III Championship. The Nor’easters conclude their most successful season with a record of 15-10-2.
Endicott’s current 11-game win streak began following a 4-3 overtime setback to UNE on January 21. The teams — two of the three most-potent offensive groups in the land — had also skated to a 3-3 draw in the league opener back in November.
For Bleck, the deciding marker was his second of the 3rd period, as he gave the hosts a one-goal cushion (4-3) less than four minutes into the frame. Both tallies were assisted by Jason Kalinowski and Tommy Besinger (CCC 1st Team).
As they had already done three times in the contest, the Nor’easters pull even at 4-all with 8:08 to go when Dylan Bengtson scored with the help of Armand Uomoleale and Danny Antonoff.
The highest-scoring attack in the country broke through first in the 1st, as Brendan Shane found the back of the cage just 2:29 into match to give Endicott a 1-0 lead. Then, UNE’s nation-topping power-play answered 10 minutes later off the stick of Ryan Bloom (CCC 2nd Team), with assist going to Dmitris Jones and Antonoff.
John Carricato notched his second helper of the initial stanza by setting up Joseph Slovak with 14:23 gone to make it 2-1 in favor of EC, but the Nor’easters erased that deficit with 1:31 left prior to the 1st intermission on a blast by Tucker Ross. Blaise Healy and Uomoleale assisted on the play.
Jack Musil kept the back-and-forth theme going in the 2nd, sliding the Gulls in front (3-2) just past the midway point of the match. However, it wasn’t even four minutes later (16:49) that the UNE man-advantage struck again to tie things up. Antonoff pocketed the equalizer with the aid of Bengtson and Trevor Fleurent (CCC 1st Team).
Endicott doubled-up its opponent in shots during the first two sessions (16-8 and 18-9), before finishing with a 49-28 edge. UNE netminder Payton Porter ended a busy night with 44 saves, which included keeping the Gulls’ second-rated power-play unit off the board in four tries.
Kevin Aldridge (CCC Goaltender of the Year) logged 24 stops for the triumphant squad.