Feb. 23, 2011
BOSTON, MA - The third-seeded University of Massachusetts Boston men's ice hockey team will host the sixth-seeded University of Southern Maine squad in the quarterfinals of the Eastern College Athletic Conference (ECAC) East Tournament on Saturday, February 26 at 5:00 p.m. at the Clark Athletic Center on the campus of UMass Boston. This will be the first time the Beacons have hosted an ECAC playoff game since the 1999-2000 campaign when were victorious over Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts (MCLA), 6-1, on February 26, 2000 and the first-ever meeting between the two squads in playoff action.
The Beacons are 15-10-0 overall on the season, while compiling a 10-9-0 mark in league play and are coming off an impressive 7-2 victory over Amherst College for the program's first win over the Lord Jeffs since December 30, 1994. UMass Boston is one of just two teams in ECAC East to host a quarterfinals game this season after not hosting last year with Skidmore College being the other. Southern Maine sports a 7-12-5 overall mark and is 5-11-3 in ECAC East play. Just seven points separate the two teams in the league standings. The Beacons defeated the Huskies, 5-4, in overtime on January 21 in Boston. UMass Boston opened a 3-1 lead with 16:05 to go in the second period, but USM netted two unanswered goals, including a pair of tallies in the second period to knot the score at 3-3. The Beacons won the contest in overtime when junior forward Chris Wyman (Bartlett, IL) scored his fourth goal of the year at the 2:17 mark. Senior forward Vinnie Jacona (East Stroudsburg, PA) netted a pair of goals for UMass Boston and junior goalie Kevin Bendel (Denville, NJ) stopped 37 shots to earn the victory. Four different Huskies scored goals in the loss including a power play goal by senior forward Zach Joy (Dover, NH) to tie the game at 4-4 in the third while junior goaltender Mason St. Hilaire (Saco, ME) stopped 37 shots in net. With the victory earlier this season, the Beacons snapped a nine-game losing skid to Southern Maine dating back to the 2001 season.
UMass Boston registered their highest point total in the ECAC East standings with 20 since they racked up a 31 point total following the 1990-91 campaign which was also the last time the program posted an above .500 mark in the conference at 14-5-3. UMass Boston has earned a reputation over the last three seasons of being a formidable playoff squad, regardless of its seeding. The Beacons have a 3-3 record during that time, including a win over Babson in 2008 and their upset overtime victory at No. 15 Norwich in the quarters two years ago, followed by a 5-4 semifinals win over New England College. UMass Boston has more experience this year than in recent past seasons, including 21 players with experience in the tournament semifinals. The team also has great depth with 11 players netting four or more goals this season, the highest total in the league. The Beacons are led by senior forward Eric Tufman (Abington, PA) with 34 points on 10 goals and 24 assists. Earlier this season he notched his 100th career point at home vs. UMass Dartmouth to become the 12th player in UMass Boston history to reach the milestone. He ranks in the top 15 among league players in points (fourth) and assists (third), while placing 13th in goals and was nominated as a semifinalist for the Concannon Award, given to the best American-born college player in New England at the Division II/III level. Freshman forward Travis Daniel (New Brunswick, NJ) has burst onto the scene as one of the most dynamic rookies in the league, registering 25 points to rank second on the squad and he ranks second in the ECAC East among rookies averaging 1.09 points per game. Senior forward Matt Atsoff (Macomb, MI) has continued his consistent play as one of the team and league's tops scorers with a team and career-high 15 goals, ranking fourth in the league at 0.65 goals per game. He's also been a good playmaker with nine assists to give him 24 points on the year. Junior forward Anthony Fitti (Havertown, PA) has been one of UMass Boston's top playmakers with 16 assists, which is the tenth-highest total in the ECAC East. Jacona has enjoyed a productive season with 17 points on a career-best 10 goals to complement seven assists while sophomore defenseman Rob Florentino (West Roxbury, MA) has also contributed with 17 points, the highest point total among Beacon blueliners while ranking tied for sixth in the ECAC East despite missing five games. Junior forward Bryan Albert (Redlands, CA) has really stepped up his play this season with 17 points on six goals and 11 assists while sophomore blueliner Chris Wilcox (Hollywood, FL) is also enjoying a breakout season with 16 points to rank ninth in the league among defenseman at 0.80 points per game. Junior forward Andrew Burke (Southampton, PA) has contributed with 13 points while senior defensemen Brett Calhoun (Tulsa, OK) has chipped in with 12 points. Rounding out the UMass Boston players with double-digit point totals is Wyman with 11 points while sophomore blueliner Steven Weston (Henniker, NH) has produced 10 points for the Beacons. In goal, the combination of senior netminder Thomas Speer (Wausau, WI) and Bendel have combined to post a 2.79 goals against average. Speer owns a .913 save percentage which currently is the second-best single-season mark in program history while Bendel is right behind him with .901 mark, to tie for the fifth-best single-season standard.
Over the month of February, Southern Maine has been a very difficult opponent, posting a 3-1-2 record with key wins over Skidmore, Tufts and Wesleyan. A very physical squad, the Huskies have spent a total of 371 minutes in the penalty box this season, averaging 15.46 minutes per game to rank 36th in the nation among D-III institutions. Senior blueliner Paul Conter (Woodbridge, ON) leads the Huskies with 23 points on nine goals and 14 assists while Joy is the squad's top goal-scorer with 10 markers and 18 total points. Junior forward Dan Rauntenberg (Cape Elizabeth, ME) has enjoyed a productive campaign with 17 points on six goals and 11 assists senior forward Jon Rutt (Scarborough, ME) has almost identical numbers with 16 points on six goals and 10 helpers. Massachusetts native David Nies (Brookline, MA) has been productive for the Huskies with 12 points on six goals and six assists while freshman forward Mike Greene (Arvada, CO) has been the team's most productive rookie with 10 points on four markers and six assists. Freshman goaltender Braely Torris (Eckville, AB) has seized the starting goaltending duties for the Huskies, posting a 3.03 GAA to rank ninth in the conference, while owning an impressive .912 save percentage for third-best mark in the ECAC East.
To watch the ECAC East semifinals game live on the internet, visit http://fasthockey.com/login.php.