BOSTON, Mass. – With five different players finding the back of the net, No. 11/12 men's ice hockey claimed their first-ever ECAC East tournament win under the 2013 ECAC East Coach of the Year Peter Belisle as the Beacons defeated the University of New England by the final of 5-2 Saturday afternoon in the Clark Athletic Center Ice Arena in front of a raucous home crowd of 683 fans.
The victory, which marked only the second home conference tournament win in program history, earned the Beacons a spot in this year's ECAC East semi-final, which will be played either at Norwich University or in Boston starting next Friday afternoon.
Norwich, the top-seed in this year's tournament is scheduled to face the eighth-seeded Huskies of the University of Southern Maine. If the Cadets are victorious they will host the two semi-finals and championship games next weekend, unless they were to be upset by the Huskies in which case the final three games of the tournament will be played in the Clark Athletic Center.
UMass Boston, who is the number two seed in this year's conference tournament, will now wait and see who they will face in next Friday's semi-final. The University of New England closed out its season with a 6-17-2 record as the number seven seed.
The Beacons improved to 19-5-2 overall, after earning their first postseason win since the 2009 season, when they stunned the entire conference by advancing to the championship game, where they were defeated by Babson in overtime, 4-3.
Knowing that they were going to have to get on the board early, UMass struck just six minutes in when Jeremy Finger (Orlando, Fla.) snuck the puck past UNE goaltender Colby Drost. Steve Weston (Henniker, N.H.) set-up Finger's goal after firing a shot into the crease which Drost was able to push aside. The goalie was unable to collect the puck, which allowed Finger to sneak in and tap in the first goal of the day. Mark Grinhaus (Scarsdale, N.Y.) was also credited with the assist on the then go-ahead score.
The first 20 minutes would see just the one tally as the two teams battled up and down the ice. The Beacons held the slight advantage in the shots column (9-7), with freshman Zach Andrews (Coral Springs, Fla.) coming up with two big stops in the opening minutes of play to keep the Nor'Easters off the scoreboard.
After the intermission, the Beacons struck early again, this time at the 4:35 mark when Rob Florentino (West Roxbury, Mass.) fired a shot from the blue line that rattled off the back of the UNE cage. Travis Daniel (North Brunswick, N.J.) and Max Reavis (Omaha, Neb.) were each credited with the assist, which put UMB up by two.
The University of New England did end the Beacons shutout bid just around the midway point of the second when Ryan Quinn netted his 11th goal of the year off of a Jared Melman and Adam Laite assist.
Leading by one, the Beacons needed to quickly respond to kill any momentum from the Nor'Easters first tally, which they did just a minute and 22 seconds later. Daniel, who had a three-point day for UMB, drove home his 17th goal of the year to push the Beacons lead back to two with 9:38 left in the period. Reavis and Daniel set-up a nice give-and-go in front of the Nor'Easters net, which Daniel capped off with a solid goal, which sent the crowd into a frenzy.
Neither team would find the back of the net for the remainder of the period, with Andrews once again anchoring the Beacons backline with his 10 saves. The Beacons offense outshot UNE 11-8 in the second, 20-15 going into the third period.
The third period would prove to be a whistle and penalty filled affair. The Beacons, who were called for 11 penalties in the contest, were called for six in the final 20 minutes alone. UNE did manage their only power-play goal on eight attempts in the third when Russ Franey scored his third goal of the year at the 8:36 mark.
UMass Boston also found the back of the cage on the power-play as Cam Harvey (Bow, N.H.) sealed the victory for the Beacons at 10:57 on his fourth goal of the year. Kit Sitterley (Mooresville, N.C.) and Peter MacIntyre (Norfolk, Mass.), who were both named to the ECAC East All-Rookie Team, each earned an assist on the play, their 19th and 13th respectively.
Andrews capped off the victory with six saves to end the day with 20 overall. The single-season wins record at UMB, Andrews improved to 17-5-2 on the year. Drost totaled 29 saves in the loss and ended the season with a 3-8-0 record.
The Beacons special teams were solid all afternoon as they held UNE 1-for-8 on the power-play, while they finished the day 1-for-4. They also outshot the Nor'Easters 34-22 to close out the year with a perfect 4-0 record against UNE.
Men's Ice Hockey will now wait to see who they will face and where they will be playing in next Friday's ECAC East semi-final contest.