Hockey’s Postseason Hopes Stifled by Leopards

Hockey’s Postseason Hopes Stifled by Leopards

CANTON, Mass. – The third-seeded Curry College hockey team was upset by the sixth-seeded Wentworth Institute of Technology on Wednesday night in the Commonwealth Coast Conference (CCC) quarterfinals by a final score of 2-1.

The battle began with the momentum swinging squarely in Curry's favor. The Colonels controlled the puck throughout the opening frame, outshooting their opponents 24-4, but could not find the back of the net. Both penalty-killing units were called upon in the stanza, but both teams came up empty as Wentworth took just one shot-on-goal in their lone power play of the first, while the Colonels recorded five shots over two opportunities. However, as the teams entered the first intermission, the scoreboard remained empty at 0-0.

Heading into the second, the visitors found their stride. With 4:36 elapsed in the period, the Leopards capitalized on their second power play opportunity of the game and took a 1-0 lead. Sam Milnes (Middletown, R.I.) tallied the score off assists from Joey O'Leary (Boston, Mass.) and Jake McKenelley (Middleton, Mass.). Just over three minutes later, Wentworth was presented with a two-on-two and looked to convert. Matt Ernster (Barrington, R.I.) brought the puck down the ice and fired one on Curry goalie Justin Ketola (Cloquet, Minn.), who made the save, but served up a rebound opportunity for Kasey O'Brien (Stoneham, Mass.). The freshman pounced on the loose puck and shot, but play continued as the referee ruled it had hit the crossbar, despite protests from the visiting players. At the next stoppage of play, however, the officials reversed the call, giving Wentworth a 2-0 advantage. Ernster and Carter Stephenson (West Vancouver, B.C.) picked up helpers on O'Brien's marker.

The frame was far from over, however, as the Colonel offense managed to cut into the lead with 7:12 left on the clock. After a saved shot from the point by Vilhelm Peltonen (Helsinki, Finland), junior Matthew Henderson (Scarborough, Maine) jumped on the rebound and beat the Leopard net-minder to make it a 2-1 game. Peltonen and Anthony Trujillo (Toronto, Ontario) were credited with assists on the score. Though they once again put more shots-on-goal than their guests (18-16), the Colonels wrapped up the second period still trailing by a goal.

Looking to keep their season alive, Curry continued to search for quality shots, but the Leopards continued to stand in their way. Wentworth racked up eight blocked shots in the third period, compared to 10 Curry shots on goal. With just over two minutes to play in regulation, the Colonels pulled their goalie in favor of an extra attacker. Less than thirty seconds later, Curry's chances improved as a Leopard penalty gave them a 6-on-4 opportunity for the remainder of regulation. However, the Wentworth defense, led by goalie Connor Carbo (Barre, Vt.) stayed stout, limiting their hosts offensive chances and running the clock to zeroes, earning themselves a 2-1 quarterfinal upset victory.

Adam Tracey (Sleepy Hollow, N.Y.) led the Leopards in shots with 4 in the contest, while O'Brien (1 goal, 1 shot, +1) earned the game's second star. Carbo stood on his head for Wentworth throughout the contest, recording 51 saves, 24 of which came in the first period alone. The freshman surrendered just one goal (.981 save%) and earned the first star. Nick Magill-Diaz (Troy, Mich.) led the Colonels in shots-on-goal with seven, while Michael Snow (Medford, Mass.) and Billy Vizzo (Shelton, Conn.) contributed six apiece. Ketola saved 22 of the 24 shots that came his way in his final performance as a Colonel, earning him the final star.

With the win, the Leopards advance to face the top-seeded University of New England in Biddeford, Maine for a spot in the championship game. Puck drop is scheduled for 7:00 p.m. The Nor'easters have appeared in all three CCC men's ice hockey championship games, winning one (2019).

The Colonels' season comes to an abrupt end, but the team will return several key pieces next season. Despite losing captain Jordan Williamson (Okotoks, Alberta) and assistant captains Ketola, Trujillo, and Vizzo, Curry is slated to return assistant captain Tyler Lindstrom (Brooklyn Park, Minn.) along with the conference leader in both assists and points in Mic Curran (Arlington, Mass.), who was recently named to the All-CCC first team. Magill-Diaz, a fellow all-conference first teamer, and second teamer Alex Ochterbeck (Dallas, Texas) should also grace the ice for the Colonels next season.

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