March 1, 2013

No. 12 Babson Stuns No. 11 Men's Hockey in OT in ECAC East Semifinal

NORTHFIELD, Vt.—Ryan Smith scored 3:18 into overtime to cap off a two-goal rally and help launch Babson College to the ECAC East Championship Game with a 4-3 win over UMass Boston Friday night at the Kreitzberg Arena.

With the loss, #11/11 UMass Boston ends their second-best season in program-history at 19-6-2. The Beacons experience a historic season, earning an eight-week run in the national polls and their highest conference finish in over two decades.

It just wasn't enough against third-seeded Babson College, who moved to 16-6-5. The #12/13 Beavers will play in their fourth ECAC East Championship Game in five years, when they take on #1/1 Norwich University Saturday night at 7 p.m.

The loss marks the end of five seniors' careers at UMass Boston: Mike DeGrazia (Novi, Mich.), Steve Weston (Henniker, N.H.), Tim Niedzielak (Chicago, Ill.), Tim Richter (Naugatuck, Conn.) and Rob Florentino (West Roxbury, Mass.). The class of 2013 ends their career with 58 victories and one of just four UMB classes with a Codfish Bowl Championship. 

Friday night's game was defined by two quick flurries of goals that completely flipped the momentum.

After failing to score for the first 31 minutes, UMass Boston turned the tide, with back-to-back-to-back goals from Richter, Mark Grinhaus (Scarsdale, N.Y,) and Kit Sitterley (Mooresville. N.C.) within a 47-second span to grab a 3-1 lead.

With the Beacons holding all the momentum and less than five minutes to go in regulation, the Beavers struck for two goals within 28 seconds to tie the game and force overtime.

While the offenses struggled to gain any kind of momentum outside of those two periods, both goaltenders played tremendous games. 

Freshman Zach Andrews (Coral Springs, Fla.) made 32 saves on 36 shots for the Beacons to finish his freshman season 17-6-2. The freshman netminder made 27 saves over the first two periods, including 15 in the first, to keep his team in the game. He finishes his freshman season with the most wins in a single season (17), the second most games played (25) and the third most minutes played (1478:57).

On the other side, ECAC East Goalie of the Year Zeke Testa made 30 saves on 33 shots, including 13 in the third period.

Babson College dominated the first half of the game by using a blue-line trap that consistently stymied the Beacons efforts to setup anything offensively. With UMass Boston continually turning the puck over at center ice or just inside the Beacons end, the Beavers piled up a 21-11 shot advantage and scored the lone goal of the first 30 minutes.

Matt O'Neill made it 1-0 Babson with a power-play goal at the 9:52 mark, when he took a rebound off of a Ben Kravitz shot and sent a backhand look past Andrews.

The Beacons slowly turned the tide in the first five minutes of the second, as they began passing the puck more efficiently and spreading out the Babson defense.

UMass Boston's patience finally paid off at the 11:39 mark, when Richter rammed home a Derek Colucci (North Scituate, R.I.) rebound to tie the game at 1-1. Grinhaus made it 2-1 UMB at the 12:17 mark when DeGrazia  skated hard towards the net and dished it off to a cutting Grinhaus, who lifted the puck into the top left-corner. Sitterley capped off the scoring seconds later, when he won an offensive zone faceoff and immediately sent a backhander over the shoulder of Testa.

With all the momentum going their way, UMass Boston dominated play over the next 20 minutes, racking up a handful of Grade A chances and nearly 20 shots. The Beacons looked as if they were going to put it away with six minutes to go when Babson was called for their first penalty of the night, but the UMB power-play backfired. 

Babson pinned the Beacons special teams unit in their own end and made it 3-2 just seven seconds after the man-advantage expired. Mike Driscoll took a pass from Jared Wiedemann and sent a shot off of Andrews pads that just barely trickled across the goal line at the 15:31 mark of the period. 

Jay Haseley tied the score with 4:01 to go in regulation, when he skated in on a 3-on-2 rush and sent a high shot over Andrews shoulder to make it 3-3. 

UMass Boston skated with renewed vigor over the final four minutes and had a handful of good chances but couldn't beat Testa.

After a 15-minute intermission, Smith made the Beacons pay 3:18 into the extra session. The senior captain found a Matt Furey rebound that never made it to Andrews and fired a shot high over Andrews' pads to send the Beavers back to the title game.