COLCHESTER, Vt. - The fifth-seeded Saint Michael's College men's ice hockey team will visit No. 4 Post University on Saturday for a Northeast-10 Conference Championship first-round game at 2:15 p.m. Please note that all fans are required to wear a mask while attending games at the Sports Center of Connecticut, Post's home rink.
After going 7-13 overall (7-9 NE10) during the regular season, the Purple Knights begin pursuit of their sixth NE10 postseason crown by taking on a 9-14-1 (7-9-1 NE10) Post squad for the first time in postseason play. The Eagles became associate members of NE10 men's ice hockey in 2019-20, and make their NE10 Championship debut. The teams split a two-game regular-season series at Cairns Arena, with Post claiming a 3-1 win on Jan. 21 before Saint Michael's tallied a 7-1 triumph the next night, scoring all of its goals in a 23:43 span. That win kicked off a regular-season-ending 5-4 stretch in which the Purple Knights scored at least seven goals in four of those wins.
Saturday's winner visits regular-season champion Southern New Hampshire University for a semifinal on Tuesday before the championship tilt occurs on the highest remaining seed's home ice on March 5. Saint Michael's handed the Penmen a 9-1 loss on Feb. 4 while losing the other two meetings by one goal each, including in overtime on Feb. 5. Southern New Hampshire's other six losses came by a combined nine goals. The remainder of the tournament field includes No. 2 Saint Anselm College, No. 3 Assumption University, No. 6 Franklin Pierce University and No. 7 Stonehill College, the defending champion. Instead of the regular four-team postseason format, the NE10 expanded the tournament field to include all seven programs last month, as the COVID-19 pandemic continued to force game postponements and exhaust rescheduling dates that impacted the entire membership.
All 24 Purple Knight skaters who appeared in a game this year recorded at least one point, led by two defensemen. Senior Sel Narby (Huntington, N.Y./Connecticut Junior Rangers) paces the team in points (24) and assists (17) while adding four power-play goals and 15 blocked shots, and first-year Case Kantgias (Bloomfield Hills, Mich./Northern Colorado Eagles) leads all NE10 defensemen in goals (11) and power-play goals (8), setting a program rookie record in the latter. He also blocked 13 shots. First-year Brennan McFarland (Greeley, Colo./Northern Colorado Eagles) handed out 13 assists among his 15 points.
The top three Saint Michael's draw men also play integral roles in a balanced offense. Junior Matt Schreiner (Falmouth, Mass./Walpole Express) won 201 faceoffs at a 64.0% clip while notching three goals and eight assists, sophomore Zach Taylor (Hanover, Mass./South Shore Kings) adds 122 triumphs and a 57.0% success rate with six goals and four helpers, while senior Thomas Flack (Toronto, Ontario/Saint Michael's Buzzers) claimed 155 draws at a 55.8% rate with five goals and nine assists. Senior Matt Egan (Hingham, Mass./Kimball Union Academy) added five goals and six assists.
Another trio has anchored the defense by posting high block totals, with third-year senior captain Andrew DeCristoforo (Medway, Mass./South Shore Kings) blocking a team-high 31 shots and adding four points. Junior Sam Johnson (Freeport, Maine/Walpole Express) adds 24 blocks and six points, while first-year David Ciancio (Scituate, R.I./Seahawks Hockey Club) has 20 blocks and eight points.
Sophomore Marshall Murphy (Little Canada, Minn./Northern Colorado Eagles) started nine of the past 11 games in net and holds a 2.86 goals-against average, .906 save percentage and 6-6 record through 12 games, all starts. Senior Hugo Turcotte (Gap, France/Kimball Union Academy) recorded a .891 save percentage and 30.9 saves per game in nine contests, including eight starts.
The Purple Knights are guided by 10th-year head coach Damian DiGiulian, whose charges are 47-34-8 in NE10 play with seven postseason appearances in his tenure. Saint Michael's has advanced to the NE10 Championship title game four times during that time.