NEHC Tournament Quarterfinal Preview: No. 3 Men's Ice Hockey vs. No. 6 UMass Boston

NEHC Tournament Quarterfinal Preview: No. 3 Men's Ice Hockey vs. No. 6 UMass Boston

No. 3 Men's Ice Hockey vs. No. 6 UMass Boston
NEHC Tournament Quarterfinal
Saturday, February 18—7 p.m.
Babson Skating Center—Babson Park, Mass.

THE SERIES

Babson and UMass Boston will meet for the 68th time on Saturday night in a series that dates back to the 1978-79 campaign. The Beavers are 44-17-6 all-time against the Beacons after splitting in the regular season for the third consecutive year back in January.

POSTSEASON HISTORY
Babson will face UMass Boston in the conference playoffs for the fifth season in a row and 11th time overall in Saturday's quarterfinal. The Beavers own a 7-3 mark in 10 previous league tournament matchups and ousted the Beacons in the semifinals on three straight occasions from 2013-15 before suffering an OT loss in last year's NEHC championship game.

LAST MEETING
Junior Charlie Ackerman scored twice, sophomore goaltender Bryan Botcher made a then-career-high 40 saves and Babson used four unanswered goals to rally past UMass Boston, 4-2, on January 14 in Boston. Trailing 2-0 after the first period, the Beavers used three goals in the span of 3:43 to take the lead for good at 8:20 of the second period. Brett Mason and Zach Lindsay each had a goal for the Beacons.

LAST UMASS BOSTON WIN
First-years Ryan Cusin and Noah Redler each had a goal and an assist as UMass Boston defeated Babson, 5-1, on Thursday Night, January 12, 2017 at Fenway Park. Junior Colin Larkin contributed three assists for the Beacons, who broke a 1-1 deadlock with three goals inside of four minutes in the second period. Junior Matt McMorrow scored his first goal of the season for the Beavers.

SCOUTING THE BEACONS
No. 6 UMass Boston (12-10-3, 7-9-2 NEHC) dropped its final three ganes of the regular season after suffering a 4-3 OT loss at Saint Anselm on Saturday. Senior Tyler Bishop had two goals and one assist and Redler chipped in with two assists for the Beacons, who got 23 saves from first-year Bailey MacBurnie over the final two periods. Cusin (16-24-40) ranks fourth in the nation in scoring, junior Colin Larkin (19-19-38) has notched eight power play and five game-winning goals, and Bishop (6-23-29) ranks second among Division III defensemen in assists. MacBurnie and first-year Jordan Bustard have combined to post a 2.57 goals against average and a .907 save percentage to go along with two shutouts this season. UMass Boston ranks fourth in Division III on the power play with 35 goals and a 28.2 percent success rate.

SCOUTING THE BEAVERS
No. 3 Babson (14-8-3, 10-5-2 NEHC), which is fifth in the initial NCAA regional rankings, saw its eight-game unbeaten streak come to an end with a 4-3 loss at New England College on Saturday. Seniors Dan CaseyBill Seligman and Patrick Young all scored for the Beavers, who tied the game with 1:32 remaining before the Pilgrims went ahead for good just 48 seconds later. Sophomore Tommy Munichiello (8-12-20) and senior Michael Phillips (6-12-18) have combined for six power play and five game-winning goals, Devaney (6-12-18) is tied for the team lead in assists and Casey (7-7-14) has three goals over the last four games. Botcher and fellow sophomore Matt Pompa, who has not allowed a goal in over 170 minutes, have combined to post a 1.90 goals against average, a. 937 save percentage and five shutouts this winter. The Green and White ranks fourth nationally in scoring defense and seventh in penalty killing with an 88 percent success rate.

SENIOR LEADERS
Phillips and fellow senior captain Tim Searles have played in each of Babson's 10 postseason contests over the last three seasons, helping the team make three straight league championship game appearances. The duo has also also combined for four goals and five assists in their careers against UMass Boston, while Seligman has produced four points and four assists for eight points against the Beacons. 

EARLY IMPRESSIONS
Munichiello (1-2-3), who missed last year's title game against the Beacons, and sophomore Matt Brazel (1-5-6) combined for two goals and six assists for eight points in last season's NEHC Tournament.

SPECIAL TEAMS SITUATIONS
The Beavers are the least penalized team in all of Division III averaging just 7.52 penalty minutes per contest, and have killed off 31 of their last 33 penalties in 14 games since December 3.

CONFERENCE HONORS
Four Babson players were recognized when the NEHC released its postseason awards on Thursday. Phillips and junior Jake Donahue were both named to the league's second team, Pompa garnered a third-team selection and first-year Connor Dahlman collected all-rookie team honors.

INSIDE THE NUMBERS
The Beavers have won four straight opening round games and are 12-2 in the conference tournament quarterfinals going back to 2003.

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