MARLBORO, Mass. --- The Becker College men's ice hockey team won 3-2 against visiting Johnson & Wales University on Saturday night at the New England Sports Center in Marlboro. The Ice Hawks of Becker improve to 2-1 and 2-0 in the Commonwealth Coast Conference while the Wildcats of JWU drop to 2-1 and 1-1 in the CCC standings.
The first period saw an explosion of power play goals. J&W struck first when senior forward Stefan Brucato (Lake Elsinore, Calif. / Idaho Steelheads) scored in the fifth minute to put the visitors ahead 1-0. Becker scored the equalizer in the 14th minute when sophomore defender Dylan Durham (Dallas, Texas / Rochester Ice Hawks) scored his second goal of the year to knot it at 1-1, assisted by senior forwards Nicholas McKee (Bakersfield, Calif. / Fresno Monsters) and Connor Merrick (Manchester, N.H. / NH Junior Monarchs). Then with exactly four minutes left in the first, Brucato struck again to put the Wildcats ahead 2-1, with the first three goals all came on power plays. But just 15 seconds later Merrick would find the back of the net on an even-strength goal, assisted by McKee and senior forward Connor Allison (Hillsboro, Ore. / Philadelphia Junior Flyers). The first period came to an end tied 2-2.
After a scoreless second period, Becker took their first lead of the game when McKee scored on a breakaway 3:45 into the final period with assists going to Merrick and freshman defender Austin Siering (Dover, N.H. / L/A Fighting Spirit), and the Ice Hawks were suddenly up 3-2. In the final minutes of the game, the Wildcats took a flurry of shots off power plays, but Becker would hold on for the win.
Becker senior goalie Tyler Stepke (Mars, Pa. / Three Rivers Vengeance) finished with 36 saves in goal while Johnson & Wales senior goalie Joey Ballmer (Kalamazoo, Mich. / Jamestown Ironmen) came up with 25 stops. Johnson & Wales held the advantage on shots, 38-28.
The Ice Hawks of Becker, picked to finish ninth out of ten in the CCC Coach's Preseason Poll, now have a 2-0 record against league opponents and are tied for first place in the conference standings as of press time.
Becker is back on the ice on Thursday when they travel to Curry for a 6:45 p.m. game. Johnson & Wales hosts Wentworth on Thursday at 6:55 p.m.
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