Higgins scores with less than a second left to lift Purple Knights past Southern Maine, 5-4

GORHAM, Maine - Sophomore Mark Higgins (Plainville, Mass./Bridgewater Bandits) tallied with nine-tenths of a second remaining to help the Saint Michael's College men's ice hockey team complete a comeback from three goals down in a 5-4 victory over the University of Southern Maine on Friday at the USM Ice Arena. The Purple Knights, who snapped their four-game winless streak, improve to 5-12 overall and 2-9 in the Eastern College Athletic Conference (ECAC) East, while the Huskies drop to 6-13 and 3-9.

Sophomore AJ Pieprzak (Barrie, Ontario/Ridley College) picked up two goals and two assists for Saint Michael's, while Higgins and sophomore William Côté (Quebec City, Quebec/Rice Memorial Prep) each provided a goal and an assist. Senior Tim McAuliffe (North Reading, Mass./Vermont Academy) also scored for the Purple Knights, and sophomore Dave Donzanti (West Chester, Pa./Northfield Mount Hermon) made 25 saves to notch the win.

Senior Matt MacDonald (Byfield, Mass./Pingree), sophomore Ryan Seward (Port Jefferson, N.Y./New York Bobcats) and first-year Demetri Sakaris (Candiac, Quebec/Hawkesbury Hawks) all finished with a goal and an assist for Southern Maine. Junior Angelo Vrachnas (Saint James, N.Y./Sioux Falls Stampede) scored, while classmate Kody Collins (Keswick, Ontario/Univ. of New England) tallied a pair of assists. First-year Josh Hillegas (Middleton, Wis./New England Huskies) stopped 26 shots for the Huskies.

With his team down 4-1 late in the second period, Pieprzak, who tallied a point on each of his team's final four goals, scored his first of the contest with 1:12 left to play in the stanza to bring the Purple Knights back to within two.

Pieprzak scored the second straight goal for Saint Michael's 7:05 into the third period, and Côté knotted the game on a power-play marker with 6:17 left. In the waning seconds of the contest, during another power play, Higgins tapped home the rebound of senior Josh Geary's (Wellesley, Mass./Phillips Andover Academy) shot for the game-winner with less than a second left.

Sakaris scored 5:42 into the opening period to give the hosts a 1-0 lead before McAuliffe tallied 1:01 later to even the score. MacDonald found the back of the net with 3:06 remaining in the frame to put Southern Maine on top, and Seward and Vrachnas tallied 17 seconds apart midway through the second period to give the Huskies a 4-1 advantage.

The Purple Knights return to action tomorrow, when they face the University of New England in a road contest at 4 p.m.