BOSTON, Mass. – Junior Jake Flynn (Lino Lakes, Minn.) netted the game-winning goal with 9:57 remaining in overtime to lift the fifth-seeded Wentworth Institute of Technology ice hockey team to a 4-3 victory over fourth-seeded Suffolk in an opening round contest of the 2016 ECAC Northeast Tournament.
With the win the Leopards – winners of seven of their last eight contests – improve to 10-14-2 and will travel to top-seeded Endicott (15-8-2) on Wednesday evening at 7:00 p.m. Suffolk dropped its second straight to end the season at 13-10-2. Tonight's contest marked just the second time in the 34 meetings between the two programs they have met in the postseason and both games have gone overtime. The game length of 70:03 is the third-longest of the eight postseason contests Wentworth has played in.
The Leopards jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the first period thanks to goals from freshmen Adam Lane (Sarnia, Ont.) and Angus Johnston (Calgary, Alta.). Lane scored a power-play tally after senior Stephen McManus (Westwood, Mass.) fed freshman Eric Eustace (Oakville, Ont.). Eustace fired a shot wide and the rebound went to Lane who recorded his fifth of the season at 4:21. On Johnston's marker, he was set up by freshman Sam Levin (Simsbury, Conn.) and senior Adam Frank (Clarkston, Mich.) at 15:26.
Suffolk quickly tied the game at 2-all after scoring a pair of goals 51 seconds apart early in the second period. Freshman Justin Holliday (Stow, Ohio) scored from classmates Nick Mosher (Cumming, Ga.) and Tommy Bishop (Chelmsford, Mass.) at 2:41 and, at 3:32, junior Justin Selep (Pittsburgh, Pa.) scored a power-play goal from junior Danyil Medvedev (Boston, Mass.) and senior Tyler Heinman (Randolph, N.J.).
The contest remained deadlocked at 2-all until sophomore Nick Newman (Saugus, Calif.) scored a 5x3 power-play goal at 8:15 which was set up by sophomore Ryan Sullivan (Whately, Mass.) and Flynn. The lead was short-lived, however, as senior Mike Cherpak (Enfield, Conn.) blast a shot from the left circle 2:18 later, which was assisted by sophomore Shaye Bailey (Quincy, Mass.) and freshman Connor Parent (Danvers, Mass.).
Both teams would have chances to win the game in regulation, however Wentworth senior Joel Miller (Calgary, Alta.) and Suffolk senior Brandon Smolarek (Chesterfield, Mich.) came up with saves to send the game to overtime.
In the extra session sophomore Erik Andersson (Madison, N.J.) found Flynn who beat Smolarek to the upper left corner of the net and sent Wentworth into the semifinals.
Miller made 31 saves on the night while Smolarek turned aside 30 shots. Wentworth was outshot by a 29-26 margin through regulation, however held an 8-5 edge in overtime to even shots for the game at 34-all.
Wednesday night will mark the third time the Leopards will face off against the Gulls and the two schools split the season series. Endicott took a 5-3 win in Beverly on Nov. 14 while Wentworth held on for a 4-3 win in Boston on Feb. 3. The Gulls will be looking to make an appearance in the championship game in just their first season as a varsity program while the Leopards will be looking to make their 12th trip to the title game.
2016 ECAC NORTHEAST TOURNAMENT
First Round, Saturday, Feb. 27-Sunday, February 28
Saturday, February 27
No. 2 Nichols 5, No. 7 Becker 0
No. 3 Salve Regina 2, No. 6 Johnson & Wales 0
Sunday, February 28
No. 5 Wentworth 4, No. 4 Suffolk 3 (OT)
Semifinals, Wednesday, March 2
No. 5 Wentworth (10-14-2) at No. 1 Endicott (15-8-2), 7:00 p.m.
No. 3 Salve Regina (15-10-1) at No. 2 Nichols (17-9-0), 8:10 p.m.
Finals, Saturday, March 6
Lowest Remaining Seed at Highest Remaining Seed, TBA