Stevens scores twice and adds an assist for the Panthers
BEVERLY, Mass. – The Plymouth State University men's ice hockey program earned a hard-fought come from behind win on the road over sixth-ranked Endicott College 3-2 in its season opener Friday night at Raymond J. Bourque Arena.
The Panthers got on the board first, ten minutes into the first period when junior forward Ryan Stevens (Colleyville, Texas) put home the goal from junior forward Matt Volonnino (Hackettstown, N.J.) and sophomore defenseman Victor Bergstrom (Angelholm, Sweden) on a 5-on-3 power play. Endicott tied the game late in the first period on a power play goal of its own, when senior Anthony Petrella (Hilton, N.Y.) put one past Plymouth State junior goalie Evan Morelli (Reading, Mass.).
"We lost freshman Jake Gerbner (Havertown, Penn.) in the first period with an upper body injury and [Matt] Volonnino was cramping the whole game, so it was a battle from the beginning," said head coach Craig Russell. "We had a great first two shifts of the game and put them back on their heels and I thought that really energized us," he added.
Special teams were a major factor again in the second period when the Gulls gained their first lead of the night. Senior Jack Musil (Skidby, England) scored on a man advantage, but just 12 seconds later Stevens struck again to knot things up at 2-2. The 6-3 forward's second goal of the night came on a shorthanded bid. He led all of NCAA Division III last winter with six shorthanded tallies.
Sophomore forward Alec LeFave (Hudson, N.H.) picked up the game-winner three minutes into the third period.
The defense came up big for the Panthers, who were under constant pressure from the Gulls all night long. "Our defensive core was great tonight," Russell said. "They moved the puck well and pushed the pace all night."
Endicott outshot the Panthers 37-24 for the game, including 15 shots in the third period alone.
"Evan was great in net and made some huge saves for us," added Russell. "He probably wants their first goal back, but other than that I thought he was really good." Morelli led the MASCAC in winning percentage, goals against average and save percentage last season.
Morelli picks up the win in net for Plymouth State, moving to 1-0-0, while junior Mark Specia (Ringwood, N.J.) falls to 0-1-0 on the season. The Panthers return to action on Tuesday (Oct. 31) when they travel to MASCAC opponent Worcester State for a 7:00 p.m. contest. The Gulls will be on the road for the start of a home-and-home series against Wentworth on Thursday (Nov. 2) with puck drop also at 7:00 p.m.
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