Men's Hockey Defeats Suffolk U. for First TimeBy Mike Purucker
The MIT men's hockey team recorded another first Tuesday night when they beat a very talented Suffolk University squad 7-3. Suffolk is currently in a third-place tie in the very competitive Eastern Collegiate Athletic Conference Northern Division and defeated the Beavers 10-3 last year.
Coach Quinn had never beaten Suffolk during his tenure at MIT. He called his team's performance the finest sixty-minute effort he has seen while behind the MIT bench.
Suffolk may have come into the game overconfident, but a goal by Nick Pearce '94 just twenty seconds after the opening faceoff quickly got their attention. Suffolk tied the game five minutes later, then scored a freak goal with one minute remaining in the first period to take a 2-1 lead.
The second period featured some of the finest defensive hockey seen at the Johnson Athletic Center in years. After skating toe-to-toe with Suffolk all period, the Beavers went on the power play when Pearce was hauled down with 2:43 remaining.
Suffolk scored 13 seconds into the power play, raising the Beavers' deficit to 3-1. The goal would have broken a lesser team's spirit, but MIT raised their game to a new level, drawing two more penalties and scoring two goals with a 5-on-3 advantage.
Mike Mini '93 scored the first goal, backhanding in a rebound off a shot by Noel Nistler G. Alain Curodeau G then tied the game at three apiece just 42 seconds later, again assisted by Nistler. These goals gave the Beavers momentum heading into the final period.
MIT wasted no time in the third, scoring three goals in the first seven minutes. Jason Biederman '93 got the game-winner at 3:46, assisted by Jason Krieser '92 and John Cushing G. Lloyd Johnston G scored a minute later, and added the final goal with five minutes remaining. But the Beavers' prettiest and most poetic goal was their sixth, scored by Mike Foley G.
The teamwork typifying MIT's game showed when Foley tipped in a pass from Gene McKenna '92 just to the left of the Suffolk goalie. The play was set up through a great effort from Curodeau and constant pressure on the Suffolk defensemen. But it was appropriate that Mike Foley should score a goal in perhaps MIT's most significant hockey victory ever. Foley has been with the team the longest, and his teammates said that he had a look of total disbelief in the locker room following the unprecedented win.
MIT beat Suffolk because every player on the team contributed their best effort. The first line of Pearce, Rob Silva '93, and Mini looked exhausted afterward, and Mini suffered a concussion from a cheap shot fired after scoring his goal. Six different players scored the seven goals, and defensemen Nistler and McKenna had four and three assists, respectively.
Goalie John Simmons '95 made 19 saves, but had excellent help from his defensemen clearing Suffolk forwards and pucks away from the crease. Suffolk's Brian Gruning had scored 37 goals and 55 points in 16 previous games, but the Beavers held him without a single point.
The MIT players felt their defense was the key to their victory. Nistler said, "They never got around our defense all game. We wanted it more than they did."
Suffolk was "used to wheeling and dealing. You could see them getting frustrated as we stymied them. We simply outplayed them in the third period," said Krieser.
Biederman said, "When we got in the locker room at 3-3 after the second period, we said to each other, `Can you feel it?' We knew then we were going to win."
MIT is justifiably proud of their on-ice success this year, and their 13-2 record stands on its own. Team Captain McKenna feels that all that is left is national recognition. As the locker room banter carried on around him, he said, "We want to be just like the football team. We want to be in SI."
The Beavers will not be gracing the cover of Sports Illustrated anytime soon, but rest assured that they have the undivided attention of the teams in the New England College Hockey Association. MIT is in first place in the NECHA Division I North Conference, and can clinch first place on Wednesday night at 7 p.m. when they meet second-place WPI at the Johnson Athletic Center.