#14 Valiants Use Five-Goal Third Period to Overpower Tufts, 7-0

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RUTLAND, Vt. – The Manhattanville men's hockey team, ranked 14th in this week's D3Hockey.com National Poll, exploded for five goals in the third period to roll past Tufts, 7-0, in the opening round of the Rutland Herald Invitational on Saturday afternoon at Castleton State's Spartan Arena.

Manhattanville (5-1-1) advances to the championship round of the tournament tomorrow at 3 p.m., when the Valiants will face off with the winner of today's second game between the host Spartans and SUNY Brockport.

The Valiants continued to receive offense from a multitude of sources in the win, as a season-high seven different players scored for Manhattanville on the afternoon. Sophomore Anton Racklin (Gothenburg, Sweden/Fairbanks Ice Dogs (NAHL)) led the way with a career-high four points on a goal and three assists, while classmate Mark Rivera (Belmar, N.J./Springfield Pics (EJHL)) had three points on a goal and two assists. Junior Louie Balzano (Staten Island, N.Y./New York Apple Core (EJHL)) added a goal and an assist and senior co-captain Ron Smith (North Delta, B.C./Nanaimo Clippers (BCHL)) chipped in a pair of helpers as well.

Manhattanville as a team was very effective offensively, posting an impressive 55-23 edge in total shots over the Jumbos.

The first period was a dominant effort from the Valiants, putting 24 shots on the goal of Tufts keeper Brian Phillips in 20 minutes, and yet the team only went into the break with a one-goal lead.

And that goal came on the very first shift of the afternoon, as senior Jason Bowles (Elkhorn, Man./Waywayseecappo Wolverines (MJHL)) put home the rebound off a Racklin shot from in the high slot for his first tally of the year a mere 21 seconds into the contest.

But that was it for the Valiants in the opening play thanks to the stellar play of Phillips, who made at least three goal-robbing stops that kept the game from getting out of hand early. On the other end, sophomore Brian Fleming (Saint John, N.B./Northern Cyclones (AJHL)) stopped all 11 shots he faced in the opening frame to keep Manhattanville ahead.

The second period was more of the same for Manhattanville, with the Valiants continuing to pepper the Jumbo net. The squad got a fortuitous bounce for its second goal of the afternoon, when Racklin's crossing pass into the slot went off the stick of Tufts forward Andrew White and into the shortside of the net for the score. The sophomore's second tally of the year was assisted by Smith.

After keeping it close for 40 minutes, the floodgates finally opened for Manhattanville in the third stanza, scoring five times to put the game emphatically away.

Rivera started the goal-scoring bonanza 1:28 into the period, working a give-and-go with Balzano to perfection for his third goal in the last two games. Just over two minutes later sophomore Paul Sirignano (St. Catharines, Ont./Thorold Blackhawks (OJHL)) tallied his fourth goal of the year to make it 4-0 Valiants, and freshman Aaron Enns (Campbell River, B.C./La Ronge Ice Wolves (SJHL)) completed the early-period surge with his first collegiate tally at the 6:07 mark to increase the lead to five.

Manhattanville's power play also finally saw some results in the third period, scoring twice in three chances against backup keeper Greg Jenkins. Balzano tipped home a Rivera shot for a five-on-four goal at 10:34 to make it 6-0, and freshman Matt Coleman (Brentwood, N.Y./Springfield Pics (EJHL)) completed the scoring with his fourth of the year during a four-on-three advantage with 3:38 remaining.

Fleming turned aside all 23 shots he faced for his first collegiate shutout, improving to 4-1-1 on the year. Phillips (2-1-1) was impressive early but faltered in the third, finishing with 40 saves on 45 shots, while Jenkins had eight saves in 10 shots over the final 13:53.

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