Panthers go down in quarterfinal round
PLYMOUTH, N.H. – Sixth-seeded Westfield State University scored three goals in the final six minutes of the game Tuesday evening, breaking a 1-1 tie and stunning third-seeded Plymouth State University, 4-1, in a Massachusetts State Collegiate Athletic Conference (MASCAC) men’s ice hockey quarterfinal game at PSU’s Hanaway Rink.
Junior Pat Nelson tallied the game-winner for the Owls with just 6:03 to play in the third period, breaking a1-1 tie with his sixth goal of the season. Sophomore defenseman Jeff Callahan scored again for Westfield with 3:36 to play, sneaking a shot from the point through a screened goaltender, and sophomore Brad Norkum sealed the victory with an unassisted empty-net marker with a minute and a half to play.
The Owls (6-18-2) advance to Thursday’s quarterfinal game at 7:00 p.m. at second-seeded Salem State University, which had a first-round bye. Fourth-seeded Fitchburg State University, which blanked fifth-seeded Worcester State University, 3-0, in Tuesday’s other quarterfinal match-up, will visit top-seeded UMass Dartmouth in Thursday’s other semifinal. The two winners on Thursday will play for the championship on Saturday at the highest remaining seed. PSU finishes the season with a 15-6-5 overall record.
Junior Ray Monroe recorded the victory in the Westfield State goal, making 28 saves on 29 shots. Sophomore Jack Astedt, who matched Monroe shot-for-shot until late in the third period, finished with 26 saves in the Panther goal.
Plymouth State scored first, with the fourth line creating a goal less than four minutes into the contest. Sophomore Seth Phelan dug the puck out of the corner, and junior Brian Johnson picked it up and made a nice crossing pass to senior Tim Vlcek, who was parked near the crease. Vlcek redirected the puck into the net for his second goal of the season to put PSU on top. The Panther fourth line had also scored first in Saturday’s 7-4 win over Westfield in the regular season finale.
It took the Owls less than three minutes to tie the game. Senior Dennis Zak, the team’s leading scorer and a MASCAC Player of the Year candidate, intercepted a pass along the boards, and fed a nice crossing pass to freshman Adam Baldassare, who tapped in his second of the season to tie the score at the 6:42 mark of the first period.
The scored stayed 1-1 for the next 46 minutes of game time before the Owls exploded in the final six minutes of the game. Westfield finished with a slim 30-29 advantage in shots on goal, and both teams were unsuccessful on two power play attempts.
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