WATERVILLE VALLEY, N.H. - Senior Bryan Berriault (East Wareham, MA) rifled a slapshot off the inside left goalpost and in with 38 seconds remaining in regulation Tuesday night at Waterville Valley Ice Arena, breaking a 3-3 deadlock and giving Western New England College a 4-3 triumph over Plymouth State College in the ECAC Northeast Conference finale for both schools.
The victory gives WNEC the eighth and final play-off spot in the ECAC Northeast, which begins Saturday night. PSC is denied a post-season bid for the first time in three years.
Berriault's game-winning goal broke the backs of the Panthers, who had fallen behind 3-0 just 10 minutes into the contest. Senior defenseman Ben Barron (Richmond, VT) put WNEC on the board just 21 seconds into the game, with assists from Kyle Weisse and Scott Rundlett (Framingham, MA). The same combination connected for the Golden Bear's second goal at 8:42, and freshman Ron Ferrante (East Haven, Conn) made it 3-0 less at the 9:59 mark.
But the Panthers would not give up. In addition to keeping the Golden Bears off the board any more, senior Kevin Creighton (Falmouth, Mass.) scored for PSC in the final minute of the second period to make it 3-1. Freshman defenseman Henry Sabens (North Falmouth, Mass.) notched his first goal of the season two minutes into the third, and freshman Chad Fitzpatrick (North Quincy, Mass.) then tied the score with a nifty move around the net for a power play goal with 10:50 on the clock. Senior John Power (Reading, Mass.) picked up assists on both third period scores.
The game-winner was particularly tough on PSC, as an overtime tie would have given the Panthers the final play-off spot, with Salve Regina the odd team out.
PSC goalie Larry Forgue (Nashua, NH) made 32 saves, and WNEC's Nate Stockton made 27 saves.
The Panthers conclude the second under second year head coach Mike Bonelli at 6-12-2 overall and 5-6-2 in the conference. WNEC is now 10-11-2 and 7-6-0.
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