WATERVILLE VALLEY, N.H. - Fitchburg State College got goals from six different players Thursday evening at Waterville Valley Arena en route to defeating Plymouth State University, 6-4, to clinch the first men's ice hockey regular season championship of the Massachusetts State College Athletic Conference (MASCAC).
The Falcons scored four unanswered goals to start the second period, turning a 1-0 deficit into a 4-1 lead. It was a 5-2 Fitchburg advantage a minute into the third period, but the Panthers fought back with a pair of goals to make it a one-goal game (5-4) with 10 minutes to play. Both teams had scoring opportunities until the final minute when Fitchburg scored an empty-net goal to seal the win.
Fitchburg State won for the 13th time in its last 14 games, improving to 18-4-1 overall and 14-3-0 in the MASCAC to clinch first place. Plymouth State had a five-game unbeaten streak (4-0-1) stopped and fell to 15-8-1 overall and 11-5-1 in conference play, remaining in third place.
Junior goalie Robert Vorse (Leominster, Mass.) recorded the victory in goal for the visitors, making 29 saves.
After freshman Alex Cottle (West Chester, Pa.) knocked in a rebound to give Plymouth State a 1-0 first-period lead, Fitchburg exploded with four goals in the first 10 minutes of the second period. Freshmen Chris Costigan (Salem, N.H.) and Justin Quinn (Braintree, Mass.) tallied even-strength goals at 3:44 and 5:10, respectively, and junior Bill Pescosolido (Framingham, Mass.) and sophomore Kevin McCready (Poughkeepsie, N.Y.) followed with power play goals at 6:54 and 10:25. Sophomore Chris Zaremba (Colorado Springs, Colo.) stopped the bleeding for Plymouth State at 11:44 of the period and it stayed a two-goal game, 4-2, for the rest of the period.
Fitchburg got the early momentum a minute into the third period when sophomore Thomas McAleer (East Islip, N.Y.) scored a power-play goal, but Plymouth State did not quit. Junior Sean Buckley (Sagamore Beach, Mass.) tallied a power play goal at 6:58 and freshman Richie Zobak (Evergreen Park, Ill.) pulled PSU to within one, 5-4, with 10:36 on the clock. But that's as close as the Panthers would get.
It was Senior Night at the game as PSU paid tribute to its two seniors (right), and they delivered on the ice. Forward Chris Chambers (Crofton, Md.) finished the game with three assists, and goaltender Aaron Runner (Alpharetta, Ga.) stopped all five shots he faced in the third period to keep the Panthers in the game.
Both teams wrap up the regular s season Saturday evening with conference games, Fitchburg State visiting UMass Dartmouth (4:30 p.m.) and Plymouth State traveling to Westfield State (5:35 p.m.)
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