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Benedetto’s Overtime Winner Keeps Rams Undefeated

PAWTUCKET, R.I. – Senior Tim Benedetto made it a winning streak for Suffolk when he scored the game-winner in overtime to lift the visiting Rams over Johnson and Wales, 2-1, Thursday night at Lynch Arena. The Rams are now 3-0 on the season, their best start since the 2012-13 campaign.

The game was a rematch from last year’s ECAC Northeast playoffs. The Wildcats defeated the Rams, 7-0, in the opening round.

Looking for redemption, the Rams (2-0 ECAC) held firm in a physical contest, and despite JWU opening up the scoring with a shorthanded goal in the third, they found a way to take 2 points from the Wildcats (1-2 overall, 0-2 ECAC).

“We’ll take a win any way we can get it,” said goalie Brandon Smolarek, who made 28 saves in the contest. “Great game all around.”

Benedetto Celebrates his game winner.

Benedetto celebrates his game winner. (Lenny Rowe/Voice Staff)

The OT period was all Suffolk. Hard forechecking by Benedetto and crew left the Wildcats scrambling in their own end.

With 49.9 seconds remaining, Woody Woodworth poked the puck away and set up Benedetto, whose shot ripped past JWU goalie Joey Ballmer, off the post, and in for the winner.

“It feels good to come down here and beat them in their own building,” said Benedetto. “Woody Woodworth gave me a great pass. It really wouldn’t have happened without his efforts.”

Both teams had chances in the first two periods, but stellar goaltending from Smolarek (3-0, .951 save percentage) and Ballmer (1-2, .920) kept the scoreboard blank.

After the Rams killed off a penalty midway through the third, they had a key opportunity to take control of the game, when JWU’s Alex Porrier went to the box for tripping.

Seconds into the man advantage, Ben Brouillard pounced on a loose puck and broke in all alone on Smolarek. Shooting backhand on the blocker side, he triggered the piercing train horn at the Suffolk end and put his team up, 1-0.

The Rams have heard that horn too many times before, and they didn’t want to hear it again.

Shortly after, the Rams went on a 5-on-3 power play, when Drew Kariofiles received a game misconduct for boarding.

Just as play went back to 5-on-4, senior captain Tim Sprague netted the equalizer, with assists from Simon Leahy and Justin Selep.

“Just the character we had to come back down one-nothing,” Benedetto said of his team. “In the four years I’ve been here, it’s the most character I’ve seen on a hockey team.”

Minutes later, Sprague nearly had the go-ahead goal, when his shot from the left side drilled the far post. Brouillard answered back with another breakaway, but missed the net high.

Despite the chaos at the end of the period, both teams were tied 1-1 at the end of three.

The Rams next travel to Springfield on Saturday. They’ll face Western New England (1-2-1, 1-1 ECAC) in a conference matchup.

On November 22, the Rams will host Becker for their gold game. The team will give out 300 t-shirts for the first 300 Suffolk students in attendance. Stay tuned to the Voice for more information on that game.

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