The Division III match in Floyd Hall Arena consisted of two hungry squads needing morsel of victory as both were confined in the middle of the highly arduous and competitive northeast division.
The notable point of view coming in was the sheer size advantage of Bryant University’s Bulldogs forwards, such as Patrick Curley, Alternate Captain Joseph Bourque and Captain Brett McNeil.
The game started with wonderful chances and wondrous saves and stops by Red Hawks goaltender Danny Porth and Bulldog goalie Francis Fromageot. The ice was broken with immense speed and power by a snap shot 6:25 in by the towering Curley. With his length he was able to stop midway along the blue line and then shift back and fire a bullet of a shot past the shoulder of a surprised Porth.
Porth continued to stand on his head and the defense performed valiantly in the first period, with great breaks and wonderful chances by the constantly driving offense.
A tough break came with another blue-line turnover, the puck landed behind Porth again. This time it was the Bulldog Captain McNeil, who was able to slide through with ease and beat the defense and Porth with a shot that threaded through the ice like a knife in butter.
However, the puck bounced so many times throughout the period with great chances by both teams and a great violent offensive attack by the Red Hawks with impressive velocity. At this point, Montclair State was bound to score soon.
The low slot was an impressive arsenal and forte for the Red Hawks. Montclair State’s Jake Baresich was able to score with 2:30 remaining in the first period.
The second period started with more of the same intensity and drive. However, it was seen that the hockey game would come down to hustle and grit. With the constant speed and buzzing of the Red Hawks players, like thousands of busy honeybees swarming around a beehive, the forwards were able to draw a multitude of slashing and hooking calls.
With the momentum in their favor, Montclair State called number nine to bring his game, and Baresich did so with another low slot beauty that stunned Fromageot.
The calls started to come for both teams, with 22 combined penalties throughout the game. Montclair State took their first lead of the game with a heat-seeking missile of a shot behind the left shoulder of Fromageot by forward Lucas Prospero. However, 4 minutes later, Bulldogs’ star forward Bourque deflected a shot past Porth to tie the game at three and set a dramatic mood going into the final period of play.
The third period started out with ferocious body checking. The glass shook at times with the intent and force of the contact. Both teams were attempting to send a message that neither will be pushed around. Neither were, but on another set play in the Bulldog zone, Ryan Martinez deflected a shot past Fromageot, to extend the lead and achieve the third lead change of the contest.
The game would get more chippy with holding calls and many stick infractions later in the third. The game continued this way for most of the period with numerous chances for Bryant and a good amount by Montclair State.
Late in the period with 3:15 left, Bourque went on a speedy breakaway and on the rebound, Curley crashed into Porth prompting a scuffle and a mini fight near the edge of the goal. A four-on-three started after being sorted out by the officials, but defenseman Andrew Diebus was sent out for player misconduct.
Finally, the Bulldogs emptied their net and had not a flurry but a blizzard of chances for an equalizer and a point, with McNeil fanned on a low shot near the goal line that would have tied it. With 8.5 seconds remaining and Fromageot pulled, McNeil tossed a shot on goal, which Porth covered. However a 10-minute delay ensued with a broken skate blade in Porth’s footwear.
To end the game, young Slovakian freshman Ondrej Smalec, was put in. Joy could be felt as Smalec raised his gloves in the air in utter jubilation. Certainly Montclair State felt the same way. There are definitely lessons to be learned though.
”I think we learned we played well enough to win,” said head coach Rob Martinez. “We played good enough hockey, and we now know we can beat teams when we are not at our best, but we have to get better and stay out of the penalty box even in a win.”
Overall, a really efficient team win for the Red Hawks and a valiant effort by the Bryant Bulldogs. The opportunity is there, we shall see if the Red Hawks snatch them in their claws.
”Most of our penalties were holding and hooking calls,” Martinez said. “We need to work on waiting and not reaching the stick out to grab and being called for penalties.”
The Montclair State men’s hockey team then played Sacred Heart University on Saturday, Dec. 1, and won 4-3. The men’s hockey team will play at Merrimack College on Dec. 8 at 9:15 p.m.