Southern Maine Falls at New England College 5-3

Junior Cody Braga scored two goals against New England College (file photo by Jason Johns).
Junior Cody Braga scored two goals against New England College (file photo by Jason Johns).
Braga Scores Two Goals for USM

            HENNIKER, N.H. -- Junior Carlos Fornaris' (Miami, Fla.) short-handed goal in the final minute of the second period proved to be the game winner as the New England College Pilgrims held off the visiting University of Southern Maine Huskies, 5-3, in a New England Hockey Conference (NEHC) men's game Friday night at Lee Clement Arena.

            The win was the second straight for the Pilgrims, and improved their record to 5-3-1 overall and 3-3-1 in NEHC games.  The Huskies, winless in their last five games (0-4-1), slide to 1-6-2 overall and 1-5-1 in the conference.  The two teams will meet again at USM on February 2.

            Protecting a 3-1 lead in the final moments of the second period, the Pilgrims went down a man with 64 seconds remaining.  Fornaris took a feed from senior Mike Whitehair (Victor, N.Y.) and beat USM sophomore goalie Anthony D'Aloisio (Frisco, Texas) nine seconds later to expand the Pilgrims' lead to 4-1.

            The Huskies cut the deficit to 4-2 at 12:04 of the third period when rookie Adam Withers (Kenora, Ont.) converted a feed from sophomore Maverick Lynes (Sherwood Park, Alberta) into his third goal of the season.

            Rookie Nikita Pintusov's (Mogilev, Belarus) power-play goal at 17:01 restored the Pilgrims' three-goal advantage.  Southern Maine junior Cody Braga (Middleboro, Mass.) matched Pintusov's power-play marker at 18:35, but the Huskies would get no closer.

            The teams traded goals in the opening period as NEC rookie Martin Hallin (Södertälje, Sweden) scored his first of the season at 6:49.  Braga's first goal of the night, on the power play at 14:15, tied the score.

            The Pilgrims took control of the game with a three-goal second period.  Senior Andreas Zöllner (Värnamo, Sweden), senior Connor Fries (Barnstable, Mass.) and Fornaris found the net to give the home side a 4-1 lead after 40 minutes.

            NEC junior goalie Anthony Pupplo (Shirley, N.Y.) earned his fourth win of the season making 29 saves.  D'Aloisio stopped 35 shots at the other end.  NEC had a 40-32 advantage in shots on goal.

            Fornaris, Pintusov and Zöllner all had a goal and an assist to lead the Pilgrims' offense.  Braga had two goals, and rookie Michael Green (Baie d'Urfã, Quebec) had two assists, for the Huskies.

            Southern Maine will take on Saint Anselm College tomorrow (4 p.m.) in a non-conference game.  New England College is off until next Friday (7 p.m.) when it host Castleton University in an NEHC game.