Panthers fall to Vikings in title game for second straight season
PLYMOUTH, N.H. – Salem State University erupted for four goals in a nine-minute span in the second period Saturday evening, and the second-seeded Vikings went on to upset top-seeded Plymouth State University, 4-3, to capture their second straight Massachusetts State Collegiate Athletic Conference (MASCAC) men's ice hockey championship at Hanaway Rink.
Junior goalie Jason Pucciarelli (Newmarket, Ont.) made 27 saves for the Vikings and was named Most Valuable Player. Senior John Needham (Medford, Mass.) scored two goals, including the eventual game-winner to lead the Vikings to their fourth MASCAC championship since 2010. Salem State defeated Plymouth State 4-0 in last year's title game in Salem, Mass.
The Vikings, 15-9-3 overall, receive the MASCAC's automatic bid into the NCAA Division III Championship Tournament, and will learn their first-round opponent when the tournament field is announced on Monday. PSU had its 11-game winning streak and 13-game unbeaten streak (12-0-1) snapped and concludes the season at 19-6-2 overall.
MASCAC Men's Ice Hockey Championship game
at Hanaway Rink, Plymouth, N.H. – Saturday, March 4, 2017
Salem State 4, Plymouth State 3
Records: PSU 19-6-2; SSU 15-9-3
* Plymouth State and Salem State were facing off in the MASCAC title game for the fourth straight year.
* Senior Ian McGilvrey (Omaha, Neb.) scored the only goal of the first period for PSU. He created a loose puck deep in the Viking zone with some strong forechecking, and then scored his seventh of the season on a shot from the right circle after a pass from sophomore Michael Covach (Shillington, Pa.)
* Covach doubled the Panther lead at 7:39 of the second period with an unassisted goal, his fourth of the season.
* Salem State capitalized on a misplay in front of the Panther goal less than two minutes later to get on the scoreboard. Junior Mackenzie Cook (Reading, Mass.) finished the play for his eighth of the season at 9:20, with junior Derek Makimaa (Swartz Creek, Mich.) and senior Brandon Platt (Pittsburgh, Pa.) collecting assists.
* The Vikings tied the game with a power play goal a minute and a half later, making PSU pay for its only penalty of the game. Freshman Callum Hofford (Woodbridge, Ont.) fired a shot from the middle of the ice just inside the blue line, and Needham deflected it home to even the score at the 10:55 mark.
* PSU had a golden opportunity to regain the lead with less than five minutes remaining in the period, but a shot by freshman Alec LeFave (Hudson, N.H.) clanged off the inside of the right goal post.
* Salem State finished off the period with a pair of goals less than a minute apart. Platt ripped a shot from the left circle over the goalie's shoulder glove side at 17:16, and junior Casey Miller (Billerica, Mass.) skated across the slot to create space on the left side, and then found Needham at the left circle for his second of the game and 10th of the season at 18:10. That gave the visitors a 4-2 lead after two periods.
* PSU pulled to within one goal four minutes into the third period when senior Michael Economos (Crystal Lake, Ill.) found the back of the net for his 14th goal of the season. It was also his 50th career goal, assisted by sophomore Ryan Stevens (Colleyville, Texas) and junior Chris Zuccaro (Hudson, N.H.)
* A key play in the third period came with 12:52 on the clock when Economos was awarded a penalty shot, but Pucciarelli made the save when Economos tried to slip a backhander through the pads.
* PSU pulled sophomore goaltender Evan Morelli (Reading, Mass.) in the final minute but could not get the tying goal. Morelli finished with 21 saves but suffered the loss (11-3-1).
* Plymouth State went 2-0-1 vs. Salem State during the regular season, including 2-0 at home.
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