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PSU Men’s Hockey clinches MASCAC regular season title

Astedt's shutout lifts Panthers over UMD

            PLYMOUTH, N.H. – The Plymouth State University men's ice hockey team clinched the Massachusetts State Collegiate Athletic Conference (MASCAC) regular season championship Saturday night with a 2-0 victory over the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth on Senior Night at Hanaway Rink.

            The Panthers, who are celebrating their 40th season of varsity ice hockey, claim their first conference championship of any kind.  PSU earns the No. 1 seed and a first-round bye in the upcoming MASCAC Tournament, while UMD puts a lock on third place in the conference standings.

            PSU junior goaltender Jack Astedt stopped all 24 shots to backbone the Panthers to the victory.  Junior Kyle Greco scored what would turn out to be the game-winner late in the second period, and junior Matt Aponte iced the victory with an empty-net goal in the final minute of the game.

            While Astedt was keeping the Corsairs off the board, UMD junior Ryan Williams was nearly as impressive at the other end.  Williams finished with 17 saves as UMD out-shot the home team for the game, 24-19.

            The visitors had an 11-6 advantage in shots in a scoreless first period.  PSU had two power play chances and UMD one, but neither was able to break through.  The defenses really tightened up in the second period as the two teams combined for only nine shots.  Junior JC Richardson and sophomore Dave Walters anchored the Panther defense while junior Zach Hepler and senior Mike Owens stood out for the Corsairs.

            Greco finally broke through for PSU at the 18:38 mark of the middle period.  Freshman Zach Sarig brought the puck into the zone near the left boards and pushed a pass ahead to freshman Mike Freitag.  Freitag found a wide-open Greco in the slot, and the Panthers' leading scorer ripped a shot over Williams' shoulder into the roof of the goal for his 13th of the season and fifth-game-winner.

PSU Men's Hockey Senior Night
Feb 18, 2012
PSU Men's Hockey Senior Night  

            The goalies and defenses continued to dominate in the third period until Aponte's empty-netter in the final minute.  UMD had a 10-7 shot advantage in the final 20 minutes but couldn't get one past Astedt.

            Prior to the game, PSU honored its four seniors – Bryan Kriner, Brian Johnson, Chris Mohar and assistant captain Chris Zaremba.

            Both teams wrap up the regular season on Tuesday, PSU traveling to Fitchburg State University and UMD hosting Framingham State University.  The MASCAC Tournament begins next Saturday, Feb. 25. 

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