MARSHFIELD, Mass. – After the top four seeds advanced through the quarterfinal round of the New England Hockey Conference (NEHC) men's postseason tournament, the stage is set for semifinal action.
The league's semifinal rounds will take place at the campuses of the higher seed this coming Saturday, February 25. Number one seed, Norwich University will battle in-state foe and number four seed Castleton University. The two/three matchup will feature a rematch from the last game of the regular season as New England College hosts Babson College.
The first semifinal features the number one team in the country in Norwich whose balanced attack should carry them far in the postseason. The Cadets remain ranked as the number one team in the NCAA East regional rankings thanks to their potent offense, which is averaging 4.28 goals per game. The squad is led by a trio of thirty point scorers in William Pelletier (St. Jean Chrysostome, Que.), Kevin Salvucci (Plymouth, Mass.) and Cody Smith (Hudson, Mass.). The Cadets also post a stingy defense, holding their opponents to 1.72 goals per game.
On the other side of the ice is a red hot Castleton team whose only loss in the second half came against Norwich back in January. The Spartans have won their last three games in convincing fashion, combining for 20 goals while only allowing four. Ryan Mulder (Ottawa, Ont.) has been sharp between the pipes, combining for 79 total saves in the last three wins. Senior forward Brock Labelle (Memphis, Tenn.) has been a major offensive contributor down the stretch as he lit the lamp twice in the Spartans' quarterfinal win and also chipped in with an assist.
The other semifinal matchup features a rematch between New England College and Babson College, who are both receiving votes in national polls. The Pilgrims won the last outing just two weekends ago, as the win solidified them the two seed in the postseason, and home ice advantage in the rematch.
The Pilgrims will look to NEHC Goaltender of the Year, Brett Kilar (Coto de Caza, Calif.) to continue his stellar play in net. Kilar's five shutouts on the season are tied for most in the nation, while his .941 save percentage ranks sixth nationally. On offense NEC boasts 11 skaters with double-digit points on the season. Leading the way are Carlos Fornaris (Miami, Fla.) and Andreas Zöllner (Varnamo, Sweden) whose 28 and 26 points led the team.
Babson counters with an impressive defensive unit of their own. The Beavers rank second in the NEHC in scoring defense, surrendering only 1.92 goals per game to their opponents. Babson will look to senior Michael Phillips (Richmond Heights, Ohio), junior Rob Devaney (Reading, Mass.) and sophomore Tommy Munichiello (Weymouth, Mass.) to continue their offensive contributions. The three lead the team in points scored on the season and each contributed with at least a point in the team's quarterfinal victory.
Both semifinals are scheduled to begin at 7:00pm with the winners advancing on to play each other in the NEHC Championship scheduled for March 4.