Kriner and Greco score twice each for Panthers
PLYMOUTH, N.H. – Junior Bryan Kriner and sophomore Kyle Greco scored two goals apiece Saturday afternoon to lead the Plymouth State University men's ice hockey team to a 7-4 Massachusetts State Collegiate Athletic Conference (MASCAC) victory over Westfield State University in the regular season finale for both schools at Hanaway Rink.
The Panthers scored three unanswered goals to close out the second period, turning a 3-2 lead into a 6-2 advantage before holding on for the win. PSU wind ups the regular season with a 15-5-5 overall record and a 10-5-3 mark in the MASCAC, good for third place, while the Owls drop to 5-18-2 overall and 4-13-1 in conference play, tied for sixth.
The two teams will meet again this Tuesday at Hanaway Rink in the opening round of the MASCAC Tournament, PSU as the third seed and Westfield as the sixth. Fourth-seeded Fitchburg State University will also host fifth-seeded Worcester State University on Tuesday. Top seeds UMass Dartmouth and Salem State University receive first-round byes and will host semifinal contests on Thursday, with the MASCAC championship game slated for Saturday at the site of the highest remaining seed.
Junior Brian Johnson snapped a wrist-shot in from along the right goal line to put the Panthers on the board three minutes into the game. Westfield senior Dennis Zak, the Owls' leading scorer, tallied his 18th of the season and eighth power play goal to tie the game, but freshman Travis Stevens answered for PSU to give the home team a 2-1 lead after one period.
Greco scored a beautiful goal 39 seconds into the second period, lifting a backhander in off the cross bar from in close after a nifty diagonal pass from sophomore Alex Cottle. Westfield freshman Vince Perreault made a nice move around the Panther defense at 5:43 and scored on a backhander to pull the Owls back to within a goal at 3-2.
PSU started to pull away as Kriner tallied a pair of power play goals at 11:27 and 15:15, with Greco assisting on both for a four-point day. Sophomore Seth Phelan put one in for PSU from behind the net off the goalie's pads to put the Panthers up 6-2 after two.
The Owls came back with a pair of power play goals midway through the third period, one each by junior Jimmy Alexander and Pat Nelson, but Greco's final goal, an unassisted breakaway marker and team-leading 16th of the season with two minutes to play, sealed the win for the Panthers.
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