Men's Hockey Wins P.A.L. Championship For Fourth Time In Five Years
HOOKSET, N.H.—For the fourth time in five years, Peter Belisle's UMass Boston squad can call themselves the Manchester/P.A.L. Stovepipe Classic Champions. Behind two goals from senior Mike DeGrazia (Novi, Mich.), the Beacons (5-2-1) derailed the University of New England (2-6) 4-2 Sunday afternoon in an all ECAC East Championship Game.
In a rematch of the 2011 championship in which the Nor'Easters claimed the title in a shootout, UMass Boston's upperclassmen left nothing to chance.
DeGrazia scored his fifth and six goals of the week and added an assist, while junior Travis Daniel (North Brunswick, N.J.) tallied a goal and two assists. The top-line of DeGrazia, Daniel and freshman Max Reavis (Omaha, Neb.) finished the game with three goals and five assists and tallied a whopping five goals and nine assists during the two-game tournament.
Daniel was named the Tournament Most Valuable Player and was joined by DeGrazia, senior captain Tim Niedzielak (Chicago, Ill.) and freshman goalkeeper Zach Andrews (Coral Springs, Fla.) on the All-Tournament team.
Senior defenseman Steve Weston (Henniker, N.H.) added his first goal of the season, while fellow seniors Rob Florentino (West Roxbury, Mass.) and Tim Richter (Naugatuck, Conn.) picked up assists for the second straight day.
Freshman Mike Miller (Wrentham, Mass.) finished off the Beacons scoring with an empty-net goal late in the third period. Fellow freshman Jeremy Finger (Orlando, Fla.) and junior Mike Kuhn (Holbrook, Mass.) picked up assists in the victory.
In net, Andrews had another strong game, allowing three goals on 17 shots. With the win, the freshman won back-to-back games for the first time all season and allowed his fewest goals in a start since the Beacons season-opener.
UMass Boston left little to chance in the victory-dominating the Nor'Easters in every statistical category. The Beacons outshot their conference foe 48-17 and won 44 face-offs out of a possible 71. Finally, UMB controlled the special teams play, finishing 2-for-4 on their own power-play, while giving UNE just two power-play chances of their own.
Playing in their fifth P.A.L. Championship game in six tournament appearances, the Beacons got off to a slow start, when Shane Toohey gave UNE their only lead of the game at 12:33 of the first period.
Just over three minutes later the Beacons went on the power-play and found a quick strike. Thirty-three seconds into the Beacons second power-play chance of the afternoon, DeGrazia slammed home the equalizer on passes from Reavis and Florentino.
After going into the first period intermission break tied 1-1, Daniel put the Beacons ahead for good 44 seconds into the second period; DeGrazia and Reavis were each credited with assists on the goal.
At the 3:29 mark of the second period, DeGrazia scored his sixth power-play goal of the season and career-high 10th goal of the year off passes from Daniel and Richter. Weston finished off the scoring flurry at 7:01, when he found the back of the net off passes from Kuhn and Finger.
The Nor'Easters would get one back at the 12:17 mark of the period, when Ryan Quinn scored off a pass from Adam Laite.
The score would stay the same for the remainder of the second period and much of the third, as the Beacons peppered sophomore goalie Craig Ryan to no avail. Ryan made 43 saves on 47 shots for the University of New England, before being pulled with 59 seconds to play.
UMass Boston would take advantage of the empty-net opportunity, as Mike Miller scored at 19:02 of the third period on a pass from Daniel.
Zeth Zelinski would bring the Nor'Easters within two at 19:25 with UNE a man up due to the extra skater, but the Nor'Easters comeback bid would fall short.
The Beacons Championship is their fourth in five years and fourth in six tournament appearances dating back to the 2007-08 season.
UMass Boston will have a familiar opponent their next time out, as the Beacons and Nor'Easters will play again this Friday at 7 p.m. at the Clark Athletic Center Ice Rink.