Compiled by D3hockey.com staff --
It didn't come easy for Salve Regina, but came it did as a Frankie Sullivan goal with just 4:21 proved to be the difference maker as the Seahawks edged league rival 4-3 in a NCAA quarterfinal game on Friday night.
The win sends Salve Regina (21-5-2) to its first Frozen Four where it also be the first Commonwealth Coast Conference team to represent the league on the season's final weekend. The Seahawks will face UW-Stevens Point in the semifinals.
Sullivan's goal came at the most opportune time possible for the Seahawks as they had already killed off three third period penalties and seen Nichols tie the game, 3-3, with a Filip Virgili power play goal at the 7:02 mark of the period.
However, there was far more to the play than Sullivan simply beating Nichols netminder Colin Brennan with a shot from the right point. What looked like it was going to a basic icing call on Salve became anything but as Seahawks forward Danny Eruzione outraced two Nichols defenders to negate the call, grabbed the puck and found Paul Boutoussov who found Sullivan with the pass that set up the goal.
Up until that deciding moment the game had been the epitome of a see-saw affar.
Salve Regina struck just 12 seconds into the game when a long shot by John McLean caromed off a defender and past Brennan, but Nichols answered back at the 11:01 mark of the first when the Bison capitalized on a quick three-on-two rush as Vincent Crivello finished off a pass from Hogan Davidson.
At the 15:53 mark, Salve went back on top at 2-1 when Salve Regina was able to get its power play set up and sustain significant pressure in the Nichols zone, and ultimately worked the puck to Erik Udahl who got a good look and beat Brennan clean. Nichols again had an answer, however, and it came just 15 seconds later when it sparked a quick odd man rush that ended with Matthew Menta poking the rebound of a Scott Cuthrell shot past Salve goaltender Blake Wojtala.
The action-filled opening period ended with the pair still deadlocked, 2-2.
After a four-goal opening 20 minutes, just one was scored in the middle stanza and it came at 18:05 of the period when Sullivan notched his first of the night when he swept in from the left side and beat Brennan.
In the third, Virgili's power play talley again drew Nichols even but the Bison were never able to grab a lead despite having three power play chances in the opening 13 minutes of the period. Nor were they able to find a way to tie the game in the closing minutes despite some frantic sequences that saw pucks get through to Wojtala.
Brennan finished with 30 saves for Nichols, which wraps up its season at 18-9-3.
Wojtala made 23 stops for Salve Regina, while Eruzione finished the night with three assists and Boutoussov dished out a pair of his own.