(with contributions from New England College Sports Information)
New England College Downs Southern Maine 6-2
HENNIKER, N.H. -- Senior goalie Brett Kilar (Coto de Caza, Calif.) stopped 41 shots to backstop the New England College Pilgrims to a 6-2 win over the visiting University of Southern Maine Huskies Saturday in a New England Hockey Conference (NEHC) game at Lee Clement Arena.
The win was the third straight for the Pilgrims and helped them clinch a home ice berth in the upcoming NEHC playoffs. The Pilgrims are now 15-7-0 overall and 11-5-0 in the league. The Huskies, 3-1-2 in their previous six games, fall to 9-12-2 overall and 5-10-1 in NEHC play. Both sides have two league games remaining in the regular season.
Junior Joe Osaka (Tokyo, Japan) scored a pair of goals, junior Bryce Nielsen (Laguna Hills, Calif.) had a goal and two assists, and rookie Adam Zöllner (Varnamo, Sweden) dished out three assists to pace the Pilgrims offense.
The Pilgrims needed just 1:03 to pot their first goal as Nielson scored off of a face-off win Zöllner. Senior Chris Santello (Fairfield, Conn.) doubled the Pilgrims advantage at 12:34.
NEC added a power-play goal at 2:10 of the second period before the Huskies got on the board at 4:08 as rookie Cody Braga (Middleboro, Mass.) responded with a power-play marker. The goal was the eighth of the season for Braga. Classmates Brendan Murphy (St. Peters, Mo.) and Brock Padgham (Chilliwack, B.C.) picked up the assists.
Sophomore Connor Fries (Barnstable, Mass.) and Osaka would add goals for NEC before the end of the period to make it 5-1.
Osaka and USM junior Brett Norman (Dawson Creek, B.C.) traded goals in the third period.
Southern Maine had a big edge in shots on goal, 43-22. New England College scored on 2 of 4 power plays while USM was 1 for 5 with the man advantage. USM rookie goalies Michael Royer (West Roxbury, Mass.) and Paul Léger (Blainville, Quebec) combined for 16 saves.
USM closes the regular season next weekend with home games against NEHC foes Castleton University on Friday (7:00 p.m.) and Skidmore College on Saturday (4:00 p.m.). NEC has home games with the University of Massachusetts Boston on Friday (7:30 p.m.) and Babson College on Saturday (4:00 p.m.).
The NEHC playoffs begin on February 18 with four quarterfinal round games. The top four teams in the final standings will host a lower seeded opponent.