St. Anselm scored three times in the final 12 minutes of regulation as the Hawks rallied for a 3-3 overtime tie with Middlebury in the opening round of the Middlebury Holiday Classic on Friday. St. Anselm (5-5-1) advanced to the championship game by scoring the only goal in the shootout, and will take on Manhattanville at 4:00 p.m. on Saturday in the title game. The Panthers will play in the consolation game at 1:00 p.m. against Canton.
The hosts opened the scoring at the 5:57 mark of the first period, after Middlebury (0-8-1) forced a turnover in the Hawk zone. Vincent Gisonti intercepted a clearing attempt at the top of the right circle and wristed a shot past St. Anselm goalie Shane Joyce.
The Hawks nearly tied the contest in similar fashion when Trey Aiello picked off a Panther clearing pass and put a shot off of the right post.
In the second period, Middlebury doubled its advantage, scoring on a 5x3 power-play opportunity with 1:17 expired. The goal came on a nice passing sequence with Andrew Neary sending a pass to Danny Jacobs near the left post, who pushed a short pass across the crease to Gisonti. Gisonti redirected the puck in for his second goal of the contest and team-leading fifth of the year.
St. Anselm had a great chance to cut the margin in half late in the second stanza when CJ Blaszka took a shot off the rush that Panther goalie Stephen Klein stopped. Klein followed that up with a sprawling stop to deny Joey Harrington on the rebound.
The Panthers started the third period with a successful penalty kill and minutes later tacked on a third goal. Mark Lyman touched the puck ahead to Greg Conrad, who carried it into the St. Anselm zone and tucked a shot just inside the left pipe from the right circle.
The Hawks stormed back with three unanswered goals in the latter half of the period. Nick Gorski netted St. Anselm's first goal with 11:27 on the clock, tapping in a short pass from Brendan Kerrigan in the slot. Nick Leonard made it a one-goal contest with 4:12 left in regulation, lifting a shot into the upper right corner after taking a stretch pass from Lawrence Taylor IV. The Hawks tied the game at 3-3 on a power play with 2:25 on the clock when Vin D'Amato tipped in a shot from the point by Peter Sikalis.
St. Anselm dominated play in overtime, thanks to more than two minutes of carryover power-play time, outshooting the Panthers 10-0.
With the game officially ending as a tie, for advancement purposes, the teams skated through an addition five minutes of 3x3 play before Kerrigan netted the only goal in the second round of the shootout.
Klein finished with a career-high 43 saves, while Joyce registered 19. The Hawks held a 46-22 advantage in shots. Each team scored on the power play with St. Anselm receiving five chances and the Panthers three.