BOSTON – Though the Greyhounds of Assumption rallied from down 3-2 and scored with 1:01 remaining in regulation, the Suffolk hockey team found itself on the right end of a wild, 4-3 overtime thriller as senior Justin Selep put in the game-winner to lift the Rams to victory in their season opener at Emmons Horrigan O'Neil Memorial Rink Saturday night.
Playing in its first overtime season opener since the 2005 season, Suffolk's (1-0-0) victory marks the first time the Rams won game one of a campaign in overtime according to the program's record books, which date back to 1999-2000. For the sixth consecutive year Suffolk opened its season against Assumption (0-0-1) with the Rams have now won five straight.
Selep sniped in his 12th collegiate goal and dished out an assist on the first goal of the night netted by Mike Cherpak, who returned the favor on the game-winner, the second of his career. Justin Holliday and Shayne Bailey, meanwhile, made a fine showing to start their campaigns in blue-and-gold. Freshman Holliday, notched two points on one score and one assist with sophomore Bailey tallying a helper. Junior Stanton Turner added two points on one goal and one assist and junior Simon Leahy and freshman Nick Mosher chipped in one handout each to the cause.
Senior netminder Brandon Smolarek picked up his 22nd career win in 27 starts, playing admirably between the pipes. Smolarek saw 38 shots, turning aside 35 of them to secure the victory.
Suffolk's power play unit proved to be strong early as the Rams capitalized on the man advantage just 8:34 into the opening stanza. Just eight seconds laters, Cherpak slammed home his first of the year from the blue line with Selep and Mosher on the assist to make it 1-0.
Still on the powerplay, the Rams controlled the pace of the puck and Holliday converted on his first collegiate goal at 10:18 on feeds from Leahy and Turner to make it a 2-0 cushion. After a flurry of penalties and both boxes filling up, Suffolk's penalty kill held the advantage for the hosts.
Assumption came out on fire in the second, scoring before the midway point of the period as Brandon Bete picked up a tally at the 15-minute mark. With assists from Matt cowls and Ryan Gomez, Bete cut Suffolk's edge to 2-1.
Momentum held in favor of the visitors as it carried for the remainder of the second set and into the third. Wanting to escape with a regulation win, Suffolk put on the pressure, but Bete had other plans for the Greyhounds. The senior got a nice feed from Gomez, then sniped one into the netting of the cage to knot things at 2-2 just 3:40 into the third period.
With plenty of time remaining in regulation, the Rams' revved their engines and exploded into the Greyhounds' zone. Turner teamed up with Bailey and Holliday right in front of the net to put Suffolk back out in front, 3-2, with just seven minutes to play.
Determined to leave Boston with the win, Assumption rallied for one last surge. Bete took advantage of a Rams' penalty for the third time and completed his hat trick at 18:59 to send the contest into an extra session. Gomez and Cowles set up Bete's third goal of the night.
But as soon as it began, the overtime period came to a close as Selep buried the winner just 37 seconds into the extra frame to vault the Rams to their 4-3 victory.
Suffolk returns to action Wednesday as the Rams open ECAC Northeast play when they host Salve Regina at 7:40 p.m.