Courtesey Boston Herald's John Connolly
It has been a banner campaign for the Suffolk men, who sit in third place in the ECAC Northeast Conference standings heading into Wednesday's regular-season finale against league front-runner Nichols at Emmons Horrigan O'Neil Rink.
The Rams (13-8-2, 8-5-2 ECACNE) beat the Bison (15-8-0, 10-4-0), 5-2, on Jan. 16 and another win would clinch the season series — important if the tiebreaker should come into play. Nichols does hold a game in hand and closes out with Johnson & Wales (10-9-4, 6-5-3).
"It's been a good season. We've won a lot of close games. It's a tribute to our leadership. We have three senior defensemen who have done a great job," Suffolk coach Chris Glionna said about tri-captains Tyler Heineman, Connor McCarthy of Hanover and Shaughn Shields.
The key on the attack has been junior forward Justin Selep, one of 22 nominees for the Joe Concannon Award, presented annually to the top American-born Div. 2-3 college hockey player in New England. Selep paces the Rams with 15 goals and 11 assists. His set-up man is junior Danyil Medvedev, who is second in points with 20 (team-high 13 assists). Senior right winger Mike Cherpak (3-5-8) completes the troika.
"I would be surprised if (Selep) isn't the MVP of our conference or even an All-American. He's a 4.0 student, he works hard and he's creative," Glionna said. "Medvedev has been out lately with a broken finger but freshman Brendan Heinze (3-2-5 in 11 games), son of ex-Bruins and Boston College skater Steve Heinze, has filled in and done a nice job. We expect Medvedev back for the playoffs."
Senior goaltender Brandon Smolarek, who might be the best the Rams have had at the position since Jeff Rose earlier this century, is 10-6-2 with a 3.13 goals-against average and .902 save percentage.
The 13 wins match the 2007-08 squad for the most wins in the dozen seasons Glionna has been behind the bench.
Last week, freshman forward Nick Mosher had the only goal and freshman goalie Michael Levine stopped all 23 shots he faced in a 1-0 win over Becker (8-14-1, 4-9-1). It was Glionna's 100th career coaching victory.
"At the end of the game, a couple players hugged me and I thought that was a little strange for a victory," Glionna said. "It wasn't until I was stepping on to the ice to shake hands with (Becker coach) Steve Hoar that they announced it over the public address system that I realized it."