COLCHESTER, Vt. – The Saint Michael’s College men’s ice hockey team heads into its third Northeast-10 Conference Championship title game in four years on Saturday, as the second-seeded Purple Knights host No. 4 Assumption College at 4 p.m. at Cairns Arena in South Burlington. The Purple and Gold seeks its sixth NE10 postseason crown, and first since 2009.
All tickets are $6 for adults, $4 for senior citizens and children, and $1 for students at NE10 schools with a valid ID. For the second straight weekend, the first 300 Saint Michael’s students with a valid ID will be admitted for free thanks to the College’s Student Activities Office and Student Association. A free webcast will be provided by Pack Network, with links available later this week at SMCAthletics.com.
Saint Michael’s is 9-15-2 but went 4-1 in the NE10 to tie Saint Anselm College for the regular-season title, the Purple and Gold’s sixth regular-season crown, and second in three years. The Purple Knights defeated No. 3 Stonehill College, 4-1, in a semifinal this past Saturday to advance to their ninth NE10 final. With top-seeded Saint Anselm being upset in the semifinals by Assumption, 4-3, Saint Michael’s is the championship game’s host as the highest remaining seed. The Greyhounds are 10-15-2, having turned in a 5-5-1 NE10 mark.
Saint Michael’s is a postseason qualifier for the 20th time in 22 years, having gone 18-6-1 at home during postseason play, including 12-4 since moving into Cairns Arena, where the Purple Knights are 3-2 in finals. The Purple Knights finished as the NE10 Championship runners-up in 2013-14 and 2014-15, falling to Southern New Hampshire University and Saint Anselm, respectively, with the contest versus the Hawks occurring at home.
Saint Michael’s has met Assumption six times in postseason play, with the Purple Knights going 4-2, including 3-1 at Cairns Arena. They last faced off in the playoffs during a 2015 semifinal, won 4-1 by the Purple and Gold. Saint Michael’s won this year’s regular-season meeting, 4-2, on Nov. 8, moving to 10-1 all time at Cairns Arena in the series. The Purple Knights used three power-play goals in a seven-minute span during the second period to rally from a 2-1 deficit.
After beginning the season 2-7, Saint Michael’s had a 5-1-2 stretch that featured a 4-2 win over 12th-ranked Babson College on Dec. 2 and a 5-5 tie of No. 8 University of Massachusetts at Boston the next night. Down the stretch, the Purple Knights suffered four losses by two goals or fewer since Jan. 20, when they fell just 2-1 in a rematch with Saint Anselm on home ice.
Junior Eric Salzillo (Johnston, R.I./Boston Bandits) has team highs of nine goals, 16 assists and 25 points, while sophomore Sam D’Antuono (Hingham, Mass./Dexter School) narrowly follows with 10, 14 and 24. Both win nearly 54 percent of their faceoffs, with D’Antuono racking up more than 300 draw victories. Senior defenseman Danny Divis (Media, Pa./Minnesota Wilderness) has dished off 14 assists, and classmate Josh Dickman (Kapaa, Hawaii/Saint Paul’s School) adds nine goals and seven helpers.
Sophomore Chris Johnson (Duxbury, Mass./Pomfret School) enters the finale with a .904 save percentage and 3.63 goals-against average, but those numbers were .923 and 2.61 in regular-season NE10 play. With 801 stops this winter, he is 36 shy of matching the program record. Johnson stands second in NCAA Division II/III in saves while placing sixth nationally in minutes (1,406:44).
Caleb Lothian, of Franklin, Vt. enters the game after playing in all 26 games for the Purple Knights this season. The senior defenseman, who played three years for Missisquoi Valley Union High School before before playing for the Rice Memorial prep team his senior year, has six points throughout the season.
— Story provided by St. Michael’s Athletic Department