Panthers’ unbeaten streak ends at 15
PLYMOUTH, N.H. – Junior Cory Callen (Annandale, N.J.) and sophomore Curtis Nikitas (Fitchburg, Mass.) scored goals less than two minutes apart early in the third period Saturday night, breaking a 1-1 deadlock and sending Fitchburg State University to a 4-1 victory over Plymouth State University in a key Massachusetts State Collegiate Athletic Conference (MASCAC) men’s ice hockey game at Hanaway Rink.
Senior Chris Riggs (Sewell, N.J.) tallied two goals for the Falcons, a power play marker in the first period that tied the score at 1-1, and a game-clinching empty-netter in the final minute. Fitchburg State extended its unbeaten streak to five games (4-0-1) and improves to 13-4-1 overall and 7-3-1 in the MASCAC, putting the Falcons in a three-way tie for first place with PSU and UMass Dartmouth.
Plymouth State had its nation-longest unbeaten streak stopped at 15 games (10-0-5). PSU is now 11-2-5 overall and 6-2-3 in MASCAC play.
Both teams scored in the first six minutes of the game. Senior Andrew Stewart (O’Leary, P.E.I.) put the Panthers on the board first, taking a pass in the slot from classmate Sean Buckley (Sagamore Beach, Mass.) and getting two shots off. The first one was stopped, but Stewart knocked the rebound in out of midair at 1:46 for the first goal of the game and his team-leading 11th of the season. Riggs answered for the visitors, scoring a power play goal at 5:52 to tie the game.
It stayed 1-1 for the remainder of the first period and all of the second. Fitchburg State broke the deadlock early in the third when PSU turned the puck over in its own end and the Falcons capitalized. Callen finished off the play after some strong moves by Riggs and junior Kris Threlkeld (Centerville, Ohio), who assisted on the play. Fitchburg extended the margin less than two minutes later when Nikitas slid one through the goalie’s legs for a two-goal advantage.
The Falcons finished with a 33-31 advantage in shots on goal. PSU killed off seven of eight penalties but came up empty on three power play tries.
Junior Bobby Leiser (Monroe, N.Y.) recorded the victory in goal for the Falcons, making 30 saves. Sophomore goaltender Jack Astedt (Angelholm, Sweden) took the loss in the Panther net, making 29 stops.
Both teams are back on the ice with conference road games next Thursday, PSU traveling to Westfield State and Fitchburg State visiting MASCAC co-leader UMass Dartmouth.
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