HARRISVILLE, R.I. — Fifth-seeded University of New England racked up the game’s first six goals en route to a 6-3 decision over No.2 Nichols College in the semifinals of the 2017 Commonwealth Coast Conference (CCC) Men’s Ice Hockey Championship on Wednesday night at Levy Rink.
The win vaults the Nor’easters (15-9-2) into the league title match versus top-seeded Endicott College, which defeated No.6 Johnson & Wales University by a 4-2 margin.
The puck will drop for Saturday’s inaugural conference final at Raymond J. Bourque Arena at 7:30 p.m. UNE went 1-0-1 against the nationally-ranked Gulls during the regular-season, including a 4-3 overtime result in Beverly on January 21 — EC has won all 10 of its outings since.
Trevor Fleurent (Biddeford, Maine) got the visitors started just over five minutes into the contest, before Dylan Bengtson (Coral Springs, Fla.) and Tucker Ross (Ashburn, Va.) padded the cushion (3-0) heading into the 1st intermission.
UNE’s advantage bumped up one notch in the 2nd frame, courtesy of Armand Uomoleale (Westport, Conn.), and the lead grew even more during the initial stages of the 3rd, as Christian Rossetti (Marblehead, Mass.) and Uomoleale again established a 6-0 margin near the middle of the final stanza.
Payton Porter (Houlton, Maine), who logged 29 saves for the Nor’easters, saw his shutout bid come to an end with 8:24 remaining when Vincent Crivello put Nichols on the board by converting a penalty shot.
The Bison (15-7-5) added a power-play tally from Michael Parnell and one more from David Chevrier down the stretch to provide the deciding difference.
Bengtson had a team-high three points for UNE, while Uomoleale’s multiple-point performance was matched by Fleurent, Ross, Blaise Healy (Melrose, Mass.), and Ryan Burr (Toms River, N.J.).
Nichols goaltender Colin Brennan (CCC 3rd Team) made 15 saves in 48 minutes of work, prior to Patrick Salkind wrapping things up with six stops.