HOOKSETT, N.H. - Saint Anselm College outshot Plymouth State University 37-13 Saturday, but had to settle for a 4-3 victory over the Panthers in the first round of the ninth annual Police Athletic League (PAL) Stovepipe Hockey Tournament at Tri-Town Arena.
The Hawks had a 31-8 advantage in shots through the first two periods, but led only 4-2. The upset-minded Panthers pulled to within one two minutes into the third period, but couldn't pull out the decision. A potential game-tying slapshot from the point by PSU freshman Derek Avakian (Edgartown, Mass.) with less than two minutes remaining got through Hawks goalie Jim Merola (North Providence, R.I.), but stopped just short of the goal line before a diving Merola covered the puck.
The victory sends Saint Anselm (2-1-0) into Sunday's championship game at 4:00 p.m. against Southern New Hampshire University. The Penmen knocked off UMass Boston in the tournament's first game, 8-4. PSU (1-2-0) and UMB (0-3-0) will meet Sunday at 1:00 p.m. in the third-place game.
Saint Anselm outshot PSU 17-2 in the first period and enjoyed three power play opportunities, but senior goalie Michael Mansson (Wilson, Wyo.) made 16 saves to keep PSU in the game. Junior Brian Keeley (Woburn, Mass.) finally broke through at 18:43, deflecting a puck past Mansson for his first of the season.
The Hawks scored twice in the first eight minutes of the second period, with freshman Josh Hechter (Winnipeg, Mani.) getting a short-handed marker at 4:52 and classmate Andrew Gartman (East Norwich, N.Y.) making it 3-0 at 7:33.
Plymouth State managed to get back in the game with a 5-on-3 advantage late in the second period. Senior Matt Toutain (Lewiston, Maine) and junior Michal Bodnar (Czech Rep./Laconia, NH) set up senior Mike Jackson (Middleton, Mass.) for a PPG at 14:24, and Toutain and freshman Matt Blonigen (Newington, N.H.) set up Bodnar two seconds after the power play expired, at 15:44, and suddenly the Panthers were within a goal.
Junior John Cronin (Milton, Mass.) scored a key goal for the Hawks, and the eventual game-winner, at 17:38 of the second period. Freshman Mykul Haun (Alameda, Cal.) scored PSU's third-period goal, and Bodnar assisted to give him a hand in all three Panther goals. Plymouth State had the advantage the first 10 minutes of the third period, but the Hawks were able to hold on.
Mansson finished with 27 saves in the first two periods, and sophomore Kyle VanDingstee (Skaneateles, N.Y.) came on to stop all six shots he faced in the third period. Merola finished with 10 stops in the Hawks' net.
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