Panthers take over first place from Vikings
SALEM, Mass. – The Plymouth State University men's ice hockey team rallied for three third period goals in less than five minutes Saturday afternoon and stunned Salem State Univesity, 4-3, in a pivotal Massachusetts State Collegiate Athletic Conference (MASCAC) matchup at Rockett Arena.
Trailing 3-1 early in the third period, sophomore Phil Arnone started the Panther comeback with his second goal of the game on the power play at 7:19. Freshman Michael Freitag pulled PSU even at the 10:30 mark, and junior Kyle Greco, the team's leading scorer, tallied the go-ahead goal at 12:11. The goal, Greco's 12th of the season, ended up as the game-winner as PSU held on for the victory.
Salem State (12-7-3, 9-3-3) slipped to second place in the MASCAC standings as Plymouth State (13-6-2, 10-3-2) reclaimed the top spot with the one-goal win.
The loss also prevented Vikings' Head Coach Bill O'Neill from reaching the 500 career win plateau. O'Neill's record now stands at 499-309-54, and he will have another chance at the milestone on Thursday evening at Westfield State.
The first period started off with a high-energy pace, and Arnone scored in an open net with 6:58 left in the period, off an assist from Freitag.
After several missed opportunities early in the second period, the Vikings' Dan Smolinsky (Plymouth, MA) finally found the back of the net in the 13th minute, tipping in the puck off an Ian Flanagan (New Hampton, NH) shot. Chris Costigan (Salem, NH) scored a power-play goal that pulled Salem State ahead 2-1.
The Vikings extended their lead to 3-1 early in the third period after a three-on-one fast break advantage was converted into a score by Kyle Phelan (Barnstable, MA), who netted a wrist-shot on a pass by Mark MacDonald (Norwell, MA).
However, the Panthers rallied with three unanswered goals to end the game. The Vikings (1-for-8 on the power-play) had a chance in the closing minutes after a penalty was assessed to the Panthers. Plymouth State clamped down and with strong goaltending by Jack Astedt held off Salem State's final push.
Ryan Sutliffe (Grand Forks, ND) made 35 saves in the loss while the Panthers' Astedt stopped 37 shots in the victory.
Salem State's next game is at Westfield State on Thursday, while Plymouth State faces off at Worcester State also on Thursday.
(Courtesy of Salem State Sports Information)
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