Golden Bears Open 2017-18 Campaign with 4-3, Comeback Win at Westfield State in OT

Junior Steve Beck scored the game-tying goal with 1.4 seconds remaining in regulation in Western New England's 4-3, season-opening win at Westfield State on Friday night. (Photo by Geoff Riccio)
Junior Steve Beck scored the game-tying goal with 1.4 seconds remaining in regulation in Western New England's 4-3, season-opening win at Westfield State on Friday night. (Photo by Geoff Riccio)

Smethurst nets two goals for Western New England, Zweep notches game-winner

WESTFIELD, Mass. (October 27, 2017) –
The Western New England University ice hockey team opened the 2017-18 campaign in thrilling fashion with a 4-3, comeback victory in overtime over Westfield State University on Friday night at the Amelia Park Ice Arena. 

Top Performers
• Senior captain Matt Smethurst (Rexford, N.Y.) led the Golden Bears offensively with two goals, including a power play tally late in the second period to get Western New England on the board, and the game-tying goal in the opening minute of the third period.
• Junior forward Steve Beck (Milton, N.Y.) found the back of the net with one second remaining in regulation to force overtime. He was also credited with a pair of assists in the contest.  
• Freshman Nolan Zweep (Abbotsford, B.C.) capped Western New England's comeback with the game-winning goal in the first minute of the extra period.

• Senior defenseman Donovan Gardiner (Sterling Heights, Mich.) factored into two of Westfield State's goals, as he assisted on the opener and scored the second.
• Sophomore Daniel Backstrom (Helsinki, Finland) and senior Nik Passero (Fort Erie, Ont.) also scored for the Owls.

Game Review
• Gardiner set up Backstrom for the game's opening goal with 1:55 remaining in the first period.
• The Owls doubled their advantage with just over five minutes left in the second period when Gardiner scored his first of the season.
• Western New England capitalized on a power play opportunity to cut its deficit in half in the final minute of the second, as Smethurst found the back of the net on a feed from Beck.
• Just 26 seconds into the third period, Smethurst scored again to tie the score at 2-2.
• Passero gave the Owls the lead with 7:44 remaining in regulation, but Western New England used another power play chance to send the game to overtime as Beck scored with 1.4 seconds on the clock to keep the Golden Bears alive.
• Zweep ended the back-and-forth contest in Western New England's favor with his first career goal 45 seconds into overtime. Junior forward Matt O'Dea's (Orland Park, Ill.) shot from the high slot was saved by Westfield State goaltender Kameron Limburg (Howell, Mich.), but Zweep picked up the rebound on the left side and lifted it into the back of the net for the game-winner.

Notes
• Western New England's win marks its first in the series with Westfield State since 2013-14, when the Golden Bears posted a 4-3 win over the Owls in the Sixth Annual Falcon Cup at the MassMutual Center in downtown Springfield.
• Western New England outshot Westfield State 42-29 and held a 43-34 advantage in the faceoff circle.
• Junior goaltender Kevin Gollmer (Flourtown, Pa.) finished with 26 saves on 29 shots.

Up Next
Western New England (1-0) will be off until next Friday, when the Golden Bears open their Commonwealth Coast Conference (CCC) slate against Salve Regina University at the Olympia Ice Center. Westfield State (0-1) hosts Salem State in its MASCAC opener next Thursday.