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Wow! What I learned this past weekend is that you never know where a truly great and entertaining hockey game is going to spring up. Sure, there were a number of tournaments where league teams played nonconference foes in marquee match-ups. However, the game of the week, and maybe the most exciting 24:01 of hockey I have seen this season, was at Ulin Rink in Milton, Mass., where Hamilton ended Curry’s seven-game win streak with a thrilling 6-5 overtime win that saw seven third period goals and a last-minute breakaway that decided the contest –  more on that later. First, here’s a recap of other action.

ECAC East
The big game of the weekend was the match-up of ranked teams in Plattsburgh at the Cardinal Classic, where the hosts played Castleton for the championship on New Year’s Eve. As expected, the game was low scoring, and the first period featured some impressive penalty killing by both teams, including a major kill by the Spartans midway through the period.

Plattsburgh held the territorial edge and outshot Castleton by a two-to-one margin (42-21), but needed a third period goal by Jake Mooney to decide the 2-1 contest. These teams won’t miss each other or the action for long, as Castleton is right back at Plattsburgh on Friday night. Expect another close contest, and maybe a different outcome the second time around.

Babson also played in the Cardinal Classic, but didn’t have a particularly good weekend, going 0-2, with losses to Plattsburgh, 5-0, and Utica, 6-2. The Beavers have a nonconference game against Massachusetts-Dartmouth on Saturday, January 7, before facing league rival Norwich on the outdoor rink at Frozen Fenway on Friday, January 13, at 3:30 p.m. If you are in Boston, definitely head over for an outdoor hockey treat.

Skidmore and Southern Maine both played in the Middlebury Classic over the New Year’s weekend, and posted similar results in tying Potsdam by scores of 2-2 and 4-4 respectively. The Huskies also tied the hosts by a 2-2 score, while Skidmore dropped its opener to Middlebury by a 5-0 score that ultimately saw the Panthers winning their own tournament on points, with the only game that didn’t end in a tie going in their favor.

NESCAC
Having mentioned Middlebury’s tournament win at home, let’s look at the St.Michael’s tournament just up the road, where another NESCAC team took home some hardware over the New Year.

Wesleyan leveraged wins over Becker (3-2) and Salve Regina (5-0) to take four points and beat the host team by one point for the tournament title. Sophomore forward Nik Tasiopoulos had a goal and an assist in each game for the Cardinals, including his team-leading 10th of the season in the win over the Seahawks.

Amherst shut down western opponent Lake Forest by a 2-0 score, and Trinity showed some offense in an 8-3 pasting of Nichols.

Connecticut College finished 0-1-1 at the Pathfinder Bank Classic, losing to host Oswego by a score of 5-1 before tying Hamline in the consolation game, 3-3, rallying from a two-goal deficit in the final two-and-a-half minutes. Kevin Reich scored a power-play and extra-attacker goal at 17:49. Keith Veronesi scored another power-play extra-attacker goal to tie things up at three at 19:46 of regulation. Neither team could find the net in the overtime, so the tie was a rewarding outcome for the Camels.

Now back to the Hamilton vs. Curry in Milton (photo gallery), where both teams showed some holiday rust in the first period, accounting for nine minor penalties and one power-play goal apiece in a period that saw the home team put 15 shots on Hamilton’s Joe Quattrocchi. Coming off the ice, coach Rob Davies of Curry noted that at the first period pace, his Colonels would outshoot the Continentals for the game by a 45-27 margin.

“I am not crazy about them having 27, but like our chances if we are up around 40 for the game.”

The second period saw Anthony Scarpino score his second of the game for Hamilton, as it took a 2-1 lead into the locker room. Then all hell broke loose in the third period.

The game just seemed to open up, as both goalies were tested with quality chances and a fair number of odd-man rushes by the opposition. Ian DeLong tied the game for Curry at 7:21 on a great individual effort from the side wall to the front of the goal, where he cashed in his own rebound to tie the game at 2-2.  The final 10 minutes of regulation saw six goals including four in a span of 1:31.

Mike Kavanaugh blasted a shot off the far post past Quattrocchi from the high slot to give Curry its only lead at 3-2. Just 10 seconds later, Anthony Scarpino completed his hat trick, with Michael DiMare getting his third assist, and the game was tied at 3-3.  At the 12:00-minute mark, Bryan Kelly rifled a shot over the glove of Curry’s Derek Mohney for a 4-3 lead, and just eight seconds later, freshman Pat Curtis from DiMare again made it 5-3 for the visitors. That was all for Mohney, as he was replaced in goal by Luc Montoni during a Curry timeout.

The Colonels didn’t quit, and at 16:48 Conner Hendry made it a one-goal game, sneaking a rebound through Quattrocchi’s pads. With Montoni pulled for an extra attacker, Curry captain Peyden Benning came up money for the Colonels, scoring at 18:58 to tie the game at 5-5. The track-meet pace of the game was exciting, and neither team went into any defensive shell or trap starting the overtime.

Shots were at a premium in the overtime, but a home run pass from Scarpino to his teammate DiMare at center ice sent the four-assist winger in for a chance to win the game with under a minute to play. Ironically, DiMare’s breakaway deke was the only shot Montoni faced in his almost seven minutes of play, and he couldn’t come up with it, as the Continentals stole back the 6-5 overtime win. For the combination of DiMare (1-4-5) and Scarpino (3-2-5), their 10 combined points were the catalyst for the victory, and despite giving up five goals, Joe Quattrocchi made 41 saves, many big ones early in the game, to keep Hamilton close.

It was a great way to spend an afternoon at the rink, and exciting right to the last minute of play. It just goes to show that you never know what a match-up between teams will bring, so enjoy all of the action you can find at any game this weekend or in the future.

Don’t blink, you might miss a goal — drop the puck!