Panthers to host rival Salem State Saturday in championship clash
PLYMOUTH, N.H. – Sophomores Ryan Stevens (Colleyville, Texas) and Matt Volonnino (Hackettstown, N.J.) tallied three points apiece Tuesday evening as top-seeded Plymouth State University bounced fourth-seeded Fitchburg State University from the Massachusetts State Collegiate Athletic Conference (MASCAC) Men's Ice Hockey Tournament with a 7-1 semifinal victory at Hanaway Rink.
Stevens recorded two goals and one assist, while Volonnino, who returned to the line-up after missing 12 games with an injury, added a goal and two assists. Sophomore goaltender Evan Morelli (Reading, Mass.) made 24 saves to send the Panthers to the MASCAC Championship game for the sixth year in a row.
The Panthers (19-5-2 overall) have won 11 straight games and are 12-0-1 in their last 13 outings. Fitchburg State completes its season with a 11-15-1 record.
PSU will host second-seeded Salem State University in Saturday's title clash at 7:00 p.m. at Hanaway Rink. It will be the fourth straight year the two teams have met in the championship game, with Salem State taking two of the previous three, including a 4-0 whitewash last year.
MASCAC Men's Ice Hockey Semifinal
at Hanaway Rink, Plymouth, N.H. – Tuesday, Feb. 28, 2017
Plymouth State 7, Fitchburg State 1
Records: PSU 19-5-2; FSU 11-15-1
* Senior Ian McGilvrey (Omaha, Neb.) and freshman Victor Bergstrom (Angelholm, Sweden) added a goal and an assist for the Panthers, and sophomore Ludvig Steenberg (Stockholm, Sweden) chipped in with two assists.
* Junior Corey Hayashi (Toronto, Ont.) scored the only goal for the visitors.
* Volonnino put the Panthers on the board eight minutes into the game, pounding in a rebound off a shot by Stevens. Hayashi answered for Fitchburg State six minutes later to tie the score, but PSU took a 2-1 lead into the first intermission when freshman Tim Larocque (Middleboro, Mass.) put in his own rebound with 1:15 to play in the period.
* Stevens took the puck from his own zone, skated in on a breakaway and finished off a short-handed goal two minutes into the second period to push the lead to 3-1. Stevens leads the nation with six short-handed goals on the season.
* Bergstrom ripped a shot from the slot into the top corner of the net at 9:10 of the middle period and the hosts took a 4-1 lead into the final period.
* PSU capitalized on a 5-on-3 power play six minutes into the third period when senior Tommy Dowell (Olathe, Kansas) scored on a slap shot from the left circle.
* Stevens tacked on his second of the game and 20th of the season during another PSU power play at the 10:15 mark. Stevens leads the MASCAC and is tied for fifth nationally in goals scored. He is also the sixth player in school history to score 20 goals in a season, and the first since 1993.
* McGilvrey rounded out the scoring with six minutes remaining with a nice deke on the goalie from in tight before dumping the puck into a wide-open net.
* Morelli improved his record to 11-2-1 on the season in the PSU goal, keeping the Falcons off the board on six power play attempts.
* Fitchburg State goalie Kirby Saari (Cape Elizabeth, Maine) made 25 saves in the first 50 minutes, and sophomore Quinn Wold (Aurora, Colo.) made two saves in the final 10 minutes.
MASCAC Tournament History
* PSU is seeking its third MASCAC Championship, having defeated Salem State for the title in 2012 (5-4 in 2OT) and 2015 (6-2).
* PSU has finished runner-up in three of the past four years, falling to UMass Dartmouth in the 2013 final (2-1) and Salem State in the 2014 (5-1) and 2016 (4-0) title games.
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