Panthers suffer loss in third straight title game
SALEM, Mass. – The top seeded Vikings of Salem State University claimed the 2014 men's ice hockey championship of the Massachusetts State Collegiate Athletic Conference (MASCAC) Saturday afternoon after defeating second seed Plymouth State University, 5-1, at Rocket Arena.
The Vikings earn an automatic bid to the NCAA tournament, their first since 1995, and improve to 16-9-2 on the year.
Plymouth State, which had a nine-game unbeaten streak (7-0-2) stopped, finishes the season at 14-11-2. The Panthers were playing in their third straight MASCAC championship game, having defeated Salem State in double overtime in the 2012 title game and falling to UMass Dartmouth in last year's title clash.
Plymouth State controlled the puck during the first period spending a majority of the period on the attack. Vikings net minder Ryan Sutliffe (Las Vegas, Nev.) turned away multiple shots in front of the net from the visitors, including a tremendous glove save on a 2-on-1 chance for the Panthers. However, Plymouth State struck 8:21 into the period on a goal from freshman Ryan Callahan (Londonderry, N.H.) assisted from sophomore Tieg Alward (Vail, Colo.) and freshman Mike Economos (Crystal Lake, Ill.). The Panthers outshot Salem State 12-7 in the first, and were able to escape the period with a 1-0 lead.
A change of pace occurred in the second period in favor of the Vikings. Chris Mastropietro (Revere, Mass.) provided a spark, tying the game for Salem State on an acrobatic shot from his knees in front of the net on an assist from Alex Minter (Peabody, Mass.). A minute later, Gabriel Cromp (Montreal, Quebec) buried a shot from just inside the blue line on a pass from Mark Macdonald (Norwell, MA) to give Salem State a 2-1 advantage. The Vikings defense played phenomenal in the period allowing only three shots on net and killed multiple penalties, including a 5-on-3 disadvantage. The Vikings added another goal on a wrist shot from the top of the circle by Minter, assisted by Mastropietro and Keaton Cashin (Boxford, MA). The Vikings outshot the Panthers 11-3 in the period and entered the third period with a 3-1 lead.
With momentum on their side, Salem State was able to add onto their lead with another Mastropietro goal on a scrum in front of the net that bounced off Mastropietro's helmet and into the net. Cashin led the way for the Vikings defense, blocking shot after shot when it mattered most. When the Panthers did get shots on net, Sutliffe was there to close the door, saving a total of 16 shots. Mastropietro, who was named MASCAC Tournament MVP, earned a hat-trick 18:21 into the third, capping a perfect night with his third goal of the game to secure the Vikings first MASCAC title since 2010.
Panther sophomore goalie Gordon Ceasar (Oak Park, CA) turned away 23 Vikings' shot attempts.
(Courtesy of Salem State Sports Information)
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