Panthers at home Wednesday for First Round game
PLYMOUTH, N.H. – Plymouth State University will have home-ice advantage when it make its first appearance in the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Division III men's ice hockey tournament this Wednesday (Mar. 7) as the Panthers will host Wentworth Institute of Technology at 7:00 p.m. at Hanaway Rink in a First Round contest.
The Panthers, 17-6-3 overall, and Leopards, 20-6-1, are two of 11 teams competing for the Division III national championship, and two of eight which received their conference's automatic berth into the tournament. PSU captured the Massachusetts State Collegiate Athletic Conference (MASCAC) championship while Wentworth won the Eastern Collegiate Athletic Conference (ECAC) Northeast title.
Ticket information for Wednesday's game will be announced Monday afternoon. Live webstreaming and live stats for the game will be available on PSU's Athletic website at athletics.plymouth.edu.
The PSU-Wentworth winner advances to an NCAA quarterfinal on Saturday, Mar. 10, at Norwich University. The NCAA semifinals and championship are set for Herb Brooks Arena in Lake Placid, N.Y., on Mar. 16-17.
Both teams won their conference tournaments in dramatic fashion to earn their NCAA berths. PSU pulled out a heart-stopping 5-4 double overtime victory Saturday night over Salem State University before a capacity crowd at Hanaway Rink, the first conference championship in Plymouth State's 40-year history of men's ice hockey and the first automatic berth in the three-year history of the MASCAC. Wentworth won the ECAC Northeast title, 1-0, on a penalty shot goal in the extra session. It was the Leopards' fifth ECAC Northeast championship.
PSU and Wentworth met twice earlier this season at Hanaway Rink, and the Leopards took both games on Jan. 7-8, by scores of 5-2 and 3-1. The teams also posted consecutive 2-2 ties when they met in Boston on Jan. 9-10, 2011.
The Panthers are hoping to capitalize on the home-ice advantage this time against Wentworth. PSU has a 10-3-1 record at Hanaway Rink this season, and owns a 21-6-2 mark at home since the building opened in 2010.
It's been an outstanding season for Plymouth State under second-year head coach Craig Russell, the MASCAC Coach of the Year. Picked to finish fourth in the MASCAC, the Panthers captured the regular season conference title with a 12-3-3 mark. The top seed in the MASCAC Tournament, PSU dispatched fifth-seeded Worcester State University, 7-1, in last Tuesday's semifinal contest before the dramatic win over Salem State in Saturday's title tilt. Plymouth State needed a goal in the final three minutes of regulation to force overtime, and killed off a penalty in the second overtime before claiming the title from the Vikings on home ice.
The Panthers have really heated up since the end of January; PSU went 6-0-1 in February and takes a nine-game unbeaten streak (8-0-1) into the NCAA Tournament.
PSU features an outstanding defense and a balanced offensive attack. Junior goaltender Jack Astedt (Angelholm, Sweden) is a First-Team All-MASCAC performer, leading the conference in goals against average (2.29) and winning percentage (.727, 15-5-2). Junior Richie Zobak (Hillside, Ill.), a three-time First Team All-Conference pick, and junior JC Richardson (Fort Collins, Colo.), the team captain, anchor a big, strong Panther blue-line contingent. Junior Kyle Greco (Hillside, Ill.) leads the offensive unit, earning First Team All-Conference honors after scoring 14 goals and 22 assists for 36 points, third-most in the MASCAC. Greco is a semi-finalist for the Concannon Award, which is given to the top American born hockey player in the Division II/III ranks.
Other top offensive threats for PSU include junior Alex Cottle (West Chester, Pa.), who collected 27 points (7 goals, 20 assists) in 25 games; senior Chris Zaremba (Colorado Springs, Colo.) and junior Kyle Weiland (Hampden, Maine), who scored 10 goals each this season, including Weiland's double-overtime game-winner in the MASCAC Championship game; and sophomore Phil Arnone (Litchfield, N.H.), who contributed nine goals, including six on the power play.
Winners of a school record-tying 10 contests in a row, the Leopards are led by freshman Mike Domsodi (Kirkland, Que.), who has 34 points on 19 goals and 15 assists, while senior Skylur Jameson (Long Beach, Calif.), Wentworth's all-time leading scorer with 159 points, has 10 goals and 23 assists for 33 points. Senior Casey Shade (Anchorage, Alaska) rounds out the Leopards' top scorers with 28 points (12 goals, 16 assists).
On defense, juniors Shaun Jameson (Long Beach, Calif.) and Reed Rushing (Seattle, Wash.) have 24 and 14 points, respectively, while in net, freshman Alex Peck (Kirkland, Que.) – who was named the ECAC Northeast Tournament Most Outstanding Player after posting a shutout in the championship game – is 12-2-1 with a 2.04 goals against average and a .919 save percentage.
Wentworth head coach R.J. Tolan, the 2012 ECAC Northeast Coach of the Year, is in his sixth season behind the bench and has a 99-51-1 (.659) record. A win on Wednesday night would make him the second coach in the program's history to reach the 100-win plateau.
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