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Croft's OT goal lifts PSC past WNEC

WATERVILLE VALLEY, N.H. - Sophomore defenseman Bryan Croft (Penacook, N.H.) scored his second goal of the season four minutes into overtime Tuesday night, giving Plymouth State College a 4-3 victory over Western New England College in the final home hockey game of the season at Waterville Valley Ice Arena.

The Panthers conclude the regular season at 7-13-1 overall and 7-8-0 in the ECAC Northeast Conference, while the Bears are now 3-18-0 overall and 1-13-0 in the Northeast.

It was a see-saw contest after a scoreless first period. Senior Chris Tortorella (Larchmont, N.Y.) put PSC on the board first early in the second period with his third of the season, but WNEC freshmen Kevin Leonard (Tewksbury, Mass.) and Greg Schena (Cheshire, Conn.) countered with goals to give the Bears a 2-1 lead heading into the final frame.

Panther freshman Kyle Poirier (Concord, N.H.) knotted the game at 2-apiece just two minutes into the third period with his team-leading ninth goal of the season. WNEC freshman Will Meyer (Enfield, N.H.) and PSC freshman Michal Bodnar (Laconia, N.H.) traded power play goals midway through the third period, setting up the overtime. PSC outshot the Bears 5-0 in the extra frame, and 41-30 for the game. Poirier picked up the assist on Croft's game winning goal.

PSC senior Larry Forgue (Nashua, N.H.) posted 27 saves to register the victory, while junior Shaun Burke (Ellington, Conn.) made 37 saves for the Bears.

The Panthers have earned their first ECAC Northeast play-off berth since making back-to-back appearances in 1998 and 1999. PSC will face regular season champion Lebanon Valley College this Sunday (Feb. 24) at Hershey Park Arena in Hershey, Pa. (1:00 p.m.).