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Plymouth State, Salem State Earn MASCAC Ice Hockey Championship Berths

Plymouth State, Salem State Earn MASCAC Ice Hockey Championship Berths

No. 1 seed Plymouth State picked up a 6-1 win over No. 4 seed Worcester State, while No. 6 seed Salem State continued to upset the bracket with a 5-2 result over No. 2 seed Westfield State in the Massachusetts State Collegiate Athletic Conference Semifinals on Tuesday night. The Panthers will host the Vikings in the MASCAC Championship game on Saturday, March 2 at 7 p.m.

 

#1 Plymouth State 6, #4 Worcester State 1 Box Score

Courtesy of the Plymouth State Sports Information Department.

PLYMOUTH, N.H. – Top-seeded Plymouth State University scored five goals in the second period to cruise past fourth-seeded Worcester State University, 6-1, in the semifinal round of the Massachusetts State Collegiate Athletic Conference (MASCAC) men's ice hockey tournament at Hanaway Rink on Tuesday night.

Plymouth State advances to its seventh MASCAC title game and will host sixth-seeded Salem State University in the championship game Saturday (Mar. 2) at 7:00 p.m. The Vikings continued an improbable playoff run recording a second straight upset after beating second-seeded Westfield State University in the night's other semifinal by a 5-2 score.

The Panthers took a 1-0 lead with a power play goal from senior Tim Perron (Northborough, Mass.) early in the first period, but it was a second period barrage that lifted PSU to the win. The Plymouth State offense erupted for five goals in the middle stanza, highlighted by two scores from senior Matt Volonnino (Hackettstown, N.J.) and the hosts coasted to the victory.

Volonnino finished with a pair of goals and now sits at 99 career points, while classmate Ryan Stevens (Colleyville, Texas) dished out three assists.

Worcester State has its six-game unbeaten streak come to an end as the Lancers close the season with a 15-10-2 mark. Plymouth State improves to 16-7-3 and will host the championship game for the fourth time in program history.

The Final Score:

Plymouth State 6, Worcester State 1

Records:

Plymouth State (16-7-3)

Worcester State (15-10-2)

How it Happened:

* The Panthers got on the board at the 5:25 mark of the opening period, capitalizing on an abbreviated power play after successfully killing off a Lancers' man-up chance. Perron snapped a wrist shot to the top right corner past freshman goaltender Ryan Hoff (Brockton, Mass.) to give the hosts an early lead.

* Worcester nearly the goal back minutes later but senior Evan Morelli (Reading, Mass.) made a sprawling save on a two-on-one breakaway to preserve the lead.

* The Panthers took advantage of another power play chance to start the second when Volonnino stuffed in the puck after a scrum in front of the net 59 seconds into the period.

* PSU struck again just 43 seconds later when sophomore Henrik Axelson (Danderyd, Sweden) snuck the puck in on the far side to make it 3-0.

* Volonnino picked up his second goal of the game on a beautiful move 3:47 into the frame. While on the penalty kill, a Stevens stretch pass sent Volonnino free down the nearside. He made a nifty spin move around a defender and knocked a backhander into the net to chase Hoff and give the home team a 4-0 lead.

* Sophomore Brett Backman (Cos Cob, Conn.) made a great pass to set up the Panthers' fifth goal at the 10:39 mark of the period. Backman made a cut behind the Worcester State goal before flicking a backhanded pass to sophomore Jake Gerbner (Havertown, Pa.), who buried it into the open net.

* Five minutes later Gerbner fed sophomore JR Barone (West Chester, Pa.) on a 2-on-1 break and Barone flipped the puck into the net.

* Worcester State spoiled the shutout 7:43 into the third period when sophomore Matthew Manning (Novi, Mich.) fired a wrist shot past Morelli off a feed from senior Mike Moran (Milford, Mass.).

Inside the Numbers:

* Volonnino's two goals give him 99 career points, while Stevens posted three assists.

* Gerbner and Barone each contributed a goal and an assist and senior Michael Covach (Shillington, Pa.) added two helpers to give him a team-leading 28 on the year.

* Plymouth State's special teams were remarkable as the Panthers went 3-for-4 on the power play and added Volonnino's short-hander.

* Westfield State went scoreless with four man-advantage opportunities.

* Morelli made 17 saves to improve to 14-6-3 on the year. Hoff made 14 saves but allowed four goals through the first 23:47 of action to suffer his first loss (4-1-1), while sophomore Aaron Callan (South Lyon, Mich.) stopped 12 shots over the final 36:13.

* Saturday's pairing will be the sixth time in the last ten years that Plymouth State and Salem State have met in the title game. The Vikings have won three of the previous five meetings.

 

#6 Salem State 5, #2 Westfield State 2 Box Score

Courtesy of the Salem State Sports Information Department.

WESTFIELD, Mass.  – Salem State notched another upset as the sixth seeded Vikings knocked off second seeded Westfield State 5-2 in the MASCAC Men's Ice Hockey Semifinals held at Amelia Park on Tuesday night. Salem State continues its attempt to become the first team to win the MASCAC Championship from the lowest playoff seed. The Vikings will now face #1 Plymouth State on Saturday with an NCAA Tournament bid on the line. The Vikings, who haven't won back-to-back games this season until the playoffs, have now won three in a row.  

Trevor Mallet (York, Maine) scored two goals to hlep Salem State build a 3-0 lead. The Owls stormed back with two quick goals only 26 seconds apart to knock the Vikings lead down to one. However, the Owls were stymied by junior goaltender Sean Cleary (Barnstable, Mass.), who made 32 saves on the night, the rest of the way. 

After a scoreless first period, it appeared as though Westfield State would jump on the board early in the second on a rebound goal from Gerard Colpoys (Scituate, Mass.), but the goal was disallowed due to a goaltender interference call keeping the game knotted at 0-0.

A few moments later, senior Jimmy Currier (Middleton, Mass.) would send a pass across the slot to a wide open Brandon Wolfe (Granger, Ind.) who would fire it past a diving Thierry Messervier (Montreal, Quebec) to give the Vikings a 1-0 lead.

Only 1:24 later, Captain Alexsi Mustaniemi (Vihti, Finland) sent a rocket from the point that handcuffed Messervier, leading to a trickling puck in front of a wide open net that Mallet would slam home for a 2-0 advantage.

Salem State would pick up another 2-on-1 goal from Mallet to extend the Viking lead to 3-0, but the Owls would fire back with a couple goals of their own. Josh Boulos (Burlington, Mass.) would send a shot that found its way through traffic and into the back of the net and then Justin Collins (Wilmington, Mass.) would pot moments later to bring Westfield back in the game at 3-2.

Salem State would eventually have the final say, tacking on two empty net goals both from sophomore Joe Smith (Holbrook, Mass.) to put the Owls away for good.

Westfield State finishes the year with a 14-9-3 record, having tied the program record for wins since the hockey team was reinstated in 2008 and earning the number two seed in the tournament for the first time ever.  

As for Salem, they will move on to play in their fifth MASCAC championship game in the last six years, seeking their fifth title since the league was reinstated.