Panthers earn berth in third straight championship game
PLYMOUTH, N.H. – Sophomore Andrew Wigg (Lantz, N.S.) tallied a goal and an assist, including the game-winning goal midway through the second period Tuesday evening as second-seeded Plymouth State University edged third-seeded Westfield State University, 3-2, in a Massachusetts State Collegiate Athletic Conference (MASCAC) men's ice hockey tournament semifinal game at Hanaway Rink.
The Panthers trailed 2-1 after one period before scoring the only two goals of the second stanza and holding on through a scoreless third frame. Sophomore goalie Gordon Ceasar (Oak Park, Calif.) made 29 saves as PSU defeated the Owls for the fourth time this season.
Plymouth State (14-10-2 overall) advances to its third straight MASCAC Championship game, while Westfield State completes its season at 12-14-1. The Panthers will meet top-seeded Salem State University Saturday at 2:00 p.m. for the championship in Salem, Mass. The Vikings downed fourth-seeded Framingham State University in Tuesday's other MASCAC semifinal.
The Panthers jumped on the board in the first minute of the game as sophomore Zach Fox (Sandown, N.H.) connected on his seventh goal of the season. Fox dished the puck to junior Mike Freitag (Westmont, Ill.) on the right side, and when Freitag got the puck back to Fox in the slot, Fox fired the shot into a wide open net.
PSU had a chance to extend the lead a minute later but a goal was denied by the official due to a Panther skater in the crease.
Westfield State answered with goals by senior Tyler Prendergast (Richmond Hill, Ont.) and freshman Jackson Leef (Fort Wayne, Ind.) to take a 2-1 lead by the end of the period. Prendergast potted his 10th of the season at the 10-minute mark after a nice drop pass on the right side from freshman Maxime Richard (Trois-Rivieres, Que.), and Leef tipped a shot from the point by sophomore Kyllian Kirkwood (Copper Cliff, Ont.) out of mid-air at 14:17 to put the Owls in the lead.
Plymouth State had two other apparent goals overruled in the opening frame. A goal with 4:24 on the clock was denied because the net had become dislodged, and a shot just 13 seconds later was disallowed after the official conferred with the goal judge.
PSU evened the score at 2-2 midway through the second period. Freshman Ian McGilvrey (Omaha, Neb.), the MASCAC Rookie of the Year, notched his 12th of the season on a play set up by Wigg and freshman defenseman Tommy Dowell (Olathe, Kan.). Wigg followed with the go-ahead goal, a short-hander and the eventual game-winner, capitalizing on a misplay by the Owls goaltender and poking in a loose puck in the crease.
The home team out-shot the visitors 13-7 in a scoreless third period as Westfield State killed off four Panther power play opportunities. PSU finished 0-for-7 with the man-advantage, while the Owls were 1-for-4. Westfield pulled its goalie for the final 45 seconds but could not score the tying goal.
Senior Eddie Davey (Orangeville, Ont.) finished with 37 saves in the Owls goal as PSU had a 40-31 shot advantage.
Plymouth State edged Salem State in double overtime to capture the 2012 MASCAC championship, and UMass Dartmouth defeated PSU to claim last year's title.
Salem State went 2-0-1 against Plymouth State this season, with all three games decided by one goal or fewer.
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