SPRINGFIELD, Mass. – The Salve Regina University men’s ice hockey team scored four times in the first period en route to a 6-2 victory over Western New England in Eastern College Athletic Conference Northeast men’s hockey action on Thursday at Smead Rink at Blunt Park.
The host Golden Bears see their four-game winning streak snapped to fall to 5-13-3 overall and 5-6 in the ECAC Northeast, while the Seahawks, who improve to 11-8-3 and 9-3-1 in the ECAC Northeast, clinched a first round bye and are still alive for the top seed in the conference.
Senior captain Brandon Stroud scored WNE’s first goal, unassisted, 53 seconds into the second period. With Salve Regina in its offensive zone, Stroud intercepted a pass at the blue line between the defense and skated the other way to the right face-off dot where he wristed his sixth goal of the season past Alexander Devine (Hampton, N.H.).
Evan Schultz (Durham, N.H.) gave Salve a 1-0 lead at the 6:18 mark when he collected a loose puck at the mouth of the open goal after Evan Schmidbauer’s (San Diego, Calif) blast caromed off the glass stanchion behind the WNE net. He tapped-in for his seventh of the season. Schmidbauer led the Seahawks with a goal and two assists.
Western New England sophomore Josh Twietmeyer had two good scoring opportunities before Schultz’s tally. On the first attempt, Twietmeyer received a pass at the blue line and was able to skate around a defender to break-in alone on Devine, but he fanned on the shot before regaining control for a soft shot on Devine. Then 36 seconds later, Salve couldn’t keep the puck in the WNE defensive end and Twietmeyer fired a wrist shot from top of left face-off circle that Devine made a shoulder save.
Just 59 seconds after Schultz’s goal, Michael Naso (Londonderry, N.H.) scored the first of his two goals on the night to give the Seahawks a 2-0 advantage and they never looked back.
Western New England freshman goalie Scott Brown made the start in place of injured senior Tim Carr, finishing with 38 saves. Brown’s best two stops came in the second period on back-to-back shots by Shultz, off the left pad from the high slot and then with the left glove on the rebound at the top of the crease.
The Golden Bears had a nice passing play to earn their second goal at the 18:52 mark of the final stanza. Twietmeyer came across the blue line and dumped a backhand pass to Stroud, who one-timed a pass over to the left-hand side to a wide-open Tyler Pionk who was stationed just below the face-off circle. The sophomore’s first career college goal came on the power play.
Devine finished with 24 saves to improve to 7-1-1. Salve outshot WNE by a 44 to 26 margin.
Western New England returns home at 1:45 p.m. Saturday against Nichols College for Senior Day at the Smead. Salve Regina will wrap up the regular season on Sunday February 22 when the team hosts Johnson & Wales at 4:35 p.m.