Ceasar leads Panthers to fourth straight MASCAC title game
PLYMOUTH, N.H. – Junior goalie Gordon Ceasar (Oak Park, Calif.) made 29 saves Tuesday evening to lead top-seeded Plymouth State University to a 3-0 victory over fourth-seeded Westfield State University in a Massachusetts State Collegiate Athletic Conference (MASCAC) Men's Ice Hockey semifinal at Hanaway Rink.
The Panthers advance to their fourth consecutive MASCAC Championship game this Saturday at 6:00 p.m. at Hanaway Rink against second-seeded Salem State University, which blanked sixth-seeded University of Massachusetts Dartmouth 4-0 in Tuesday's other semifinal. PSU and Salem State also met in the 2012 and 2014 MASCAC title games, with the Panthers winning three years ago in Plymouth and the Vikings claiming last year's championship in Salem, Mass.
Plymouth State won its third straight game and ninth in its last 10 outings to improve to 15-8-3 overall. The Panthers also downed Westfield for the fourth time in as many outings this season. The Owls, who defeated Worcester State University in Saturday's quarterfinal, wrap up their season at 12-13-2 overall.
Senior Mike Freitag (Westmont, Ill.) led the Panther offense with a goal and an assist and junior Josh Woody (Sunderland, Md.) collected two assists. PSU tallied all the offense it would need with a pair of goals in the opening 20 minutes, and added a second-period insurance goal. Ceasar and the Panther defense did the rest, keeping the visitors off the scoreboard on six power play opportunities. It was Ceasar's first shutout of the season and the fifth of his career.
Junior Andrew Wigg (Lantz, N.S.), who was named MASCAC Player of the Year on Monday, put PSU on the board seven minutes into the first period. Wigg, who missed the last three games with an injury, tipped home a pass from the right corner by Woody for his conference-leading 16th goal of the season.
Freitag, who also assisted on the game-winner, doubled the Panther lead just two minutes later with a mid-air redirection of a shot from the perimeter by junior Colt Smelstor (Fairfax, Vt.). Woody also picked up a second assist on the play.
That turned out to be the extent of the offense in the game. PSU finished with a 34-29 advantage in shots. Westfield senior goalie Ian Perrier (Whitehorse, Yukon Terr.) made 31 saves in the setback.
PSU will face a Salem State team in the final that it has defeated three times this season, by scores of 3-2, 3-2 and 5-2.
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