Freitag leads Panthers to second title and NCAA berth in four years
PLYMOUTH, N.H. – Senior Mike Freitag (Westmont, Ill.) collected four assists Saturday evening to lead top-seeded Plymouth State University to its second Massachusetts State Collegiate Athletic Conference (MASCAC) Men's Ice Hockey Championship with a 6-2 victory over second-seeded Salem State University before a sellout crowd at Hanaway Rink.
Playing in its fourth consecutive MASCAC championship game, PSU captures its first title since defeating Salem State for the 2012 crown. The Panthers (16-8-3 overall), who have won four straight games and 10 of their last 11, advance to the NCAA Division III National Championships for the second time in school history, joining the 2012 squad. Salem State, the defending champion, completes its season at 13-11-3.
Plymouth State will find out its NCAA Tournament schedule and opponent Monday morning at 10:30 a.m. on the NCAA Selection show, which will be aired on www.ncaa.com. PSU will be one of just 11 teams to advance to the NCAA Division III Tourney, which begins with first-round games on Saturday, Mar. 14.
|MVP Mike Freitag and MASCAC|
|Commissioner Angela Bauman|
Freitag, who was named the game's Most Outstanding Player, also recorded his 100th career point in a Panther uniform, becoming the 10th player in school history to reach the milestone. Freitag now has 34 goals and 66 assist in his 103-game career.
PSU's top line of Freitag and juniors Josh Woody (Sunderland, Md.) and Andrew Wigg (Lantz, Nova Scotia) did much of the damage against the Vikings, accounting for four goals on the evening. Woody tallied two goals and an assist while Wigg chipped in with two goals and one helper. Senior defenseman and captain Zach Sarig (Reading, Pa.) also added a goal and an assist.
The Vikings got on the scoreboard first six minutes into the first period when freshman Michael Casale (Stoney Creek, Ont.) snapped a shot from the top of the left circle over the goalie's shoulder into the top right corner for his team-leading 13th goal of the season.
PSU tied the game two-and-a-half minutes later when freshman Riley Flanagan (Weymouth, Mass.) pounded home his third of the season. Sarig's shot from the right point went wide right, but Flanagan collected the bounce of the boards behind the net and dumped it into the empty goal from the left side. The Panthers took the lead for good with just 23.2 seconds left in the opening frame when Freitag fed Wigg from behind the net and Wigg slid the puck through the goalie's legs for his MASCAC-leading 17th of the season and a 2-1 PSU lead after one period.
Salem State had a golden chance to tie the game midway through the second period but a shot by sophomore Jon Hart (Bridgewater, Mass.) clanged off the left post. It was still a one-goal game late in the period when PSU tallied a pair of goals in the final three minutes of the frame to open up a 4-1 margin. Freitag created the first play in the offensive zone before Wigg fed Woody for a one-timer for his first of the night at 16:58, and Freitag and Wigg assisted on Sarig's 4-on-4 goal at 18:23 as he walked in from the left point and fired a wrister top-shelf.
The Vikings didn't go down easily as senior Kristofer Faric (Whitby, Ont.) tallied a power play goal on a nice back-handed pass from sophomore Alex Minter (Peabody, Mass.) three minutes into the third period to cut the margin to 4-2, but sophomore Ian McGilvrey (Omaha, Neb.) added an insurance goal for PSU with nine minutes to play and Woody rounded out the scoring with an empty netter with three minutes to go.
PSU finished with a 42-28 advantage in shots on goal. PSU junior goalie Gordon Ceasar (Oak Park, Calif.) made 26 saves to earn the victory (15-4-3) while Vikings' sophomore goalie Marcus Zelzer (Green Bay, Wisc.) finished with 34 saves.
The Panthers managed to defeat Salem State four times this season, with Saturday's outcome added to the 3-2, 3-2 and 5-2 victories in the regular season.
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