Panthers down Lancers, host title game Saturday
PLYMOUTH, N.H. – Senior Chris Zaremba and junior Kyle Greco combined for three goals and three assists Tuesday evening as top-seeded Plymouth State University stormed past fifth-seeded Worcester State University, 7-1, in a Massachusetts State Collegiate Athletic Conference (MASCAC) men's ice hockey semifinal game at Hanaway Rink.
Zaremba tallied two goals and one assist while Greco contributed a goal and two assists to lead a balanced Panther attack that scored a season-high seven goals. The Panthers, 7-0-1 in their last eight games, scored four times on the power play and junior goaltender Jack Astedt made 29 saves to lead the Panthers to their first conference championship game in 26 years.
PSU, 16-6-3 overall, will host second-seeded Salem State University, 15-8-3, this Saturday at 6:00 p.m. in the MASCAC title game at Hanaway Rink. The Vikings advanced to the championship contest Tuesday with a 4-3 overtime victory over third-seeded University of Massachusetts Dartmouth in the other semifinal in Salem, Mass. The MASCAC champion will receive the conference's first automatic berth into the NCAA Division III Championship Tournament.
Worcester State, which upset fourth-seeded Fitchburg State in Saturday's first round, got a first-period goal from Pat Styckiewicz, but the Lancers finish the season with a 9-15-3 overall mark. The lopsided score was unexpected, as the three regular season games between the two schools all went to overtime (1-1-1).
Plymouth State will be making its first conference championship game since 1986, when the Panthers were defeated by Curry College for the ECAC Championship.
The Panthers got on the board three minutes into the first period when a shot by junior Tim Visich from the left boards slipped underneath the pads of senior goalie Bryan Kalczynski. Sophomore Phil Arnone made it 2-0 midway through the frame when he deflected a shot by freshman Zach Sarig in the slot that snuck over Kalczynski's shoulder.
The Lancers scored their only goal of the contest on the first marker of the season by junior Pat Styckiewicz, who circled around from behind the net and put in his own rebound late in the opening period to make it 2-1 after one.
PSU proved to be too strong with three goals in the middle stanza. Junior Alex Cottle snapped home a wrist shot at 6:45 to make it 3-1, and Greco and sophomore Travis Stevens scored 57 seconds apart to end the period with the four-goal advantage. Greco netted his team-leading 14th marker of the season from the left circle while Stevens intercepted a Lancer clear attempt and weaved through traffic before scoring the unassisted tally.
Plymouth State would score two more times in the third for highest output of the season, both by Zaremba. The home team finished 4-for-8 on the power play while holding the Lancers scoreless in seven tries with the man advantage.
Kalczynski, who finished with 26 saves in the losing effort, ends the campaign with the lowest goals against average in team history (2.65) while his save total is tied for the third-most ever (723). In his two seasons at WSU, he has the second-lowest career GAA in the 45 years ice hockey has been a varsity program (2.87).
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