Volonnino scores twice as Panthers take sole possession of first place
PLYMOUTH, N.H. – Junior Matt Volonnino (Hackettstown, N.J.) scored a pair of goals to lead the Plymouth State University men's hockey team past Worcester State University, 4-3, in a match-up of the top two teams in the Massachusetts State Collegiate Athletic Conference (MASCAC) on Saturday night at Hanaway Rink.
With the win PSU improves to 10-3-1 overall and 6-1-0 in MASCAC play. Worcester State fell for just the second time all season, dropping to 10-2-0 and 5-2-0 in league contests. The teams have now split a pair of one-goal games, with each team winning on its home ice.
Volonnino got the scoring started early in the first period. Junior Ryan Stevens (Colleyville, Texas) flipped a blind backhanded pass from in front of the PSU bench to Volonnino, who skated past the blue line and towards the right circle. His wrist shot snuck past sophomore goaltender Josh Reinstein (Woodland Hills, Calif.) to give the hosts an early lead at the 4:07 mark.
The Lancers struck back with a short-handed tally midway through the period. A WSU defenseman attempted to clear the puck from behind his own net and freshman Tim Drevitch (Oxford, N.J.) grabbed the puck from the boards and cut across the ice before firing a wrist shot high over the blocker of junior goalie Evan Morelli (Reading, Mass.) to even the score at 1-1.
Worcester State took a 2-1 lead early in the second period. Freshman Ryan James (Katy, Texas) had the puck in the left corner of the Plymouth zone and his pass found a cutting Drevitch. Drevitch ripped a shot through traffic to the top left corner, off the cross bar and in to put the visitors in front.
PSU evened the game at the 10:43 mark on a strong effort from freshman JR Barone (West Chester, Pa.). The 5-10 forward picked up the puck at the left circle, skated around a defender, and stuffed the puck to the near post past Reinstein. Four minutes later Volonnino put the Panthers ahead for good. Sophomore Victor Bergstrom (Angelholm, Sweden) played the puck to Volonnino from the left corner into the circle and Volonnino turned and fired a wrist shot to the nearside.
Sophomore Alec LeFave (Hudson, N.H.) gave the hosts some breathing room at 9:43 of the third period. LeFave skated in with junior Ludvig Steenberg (Stockholm, Sweden) on a two-on-one break. Steenberg blasted a shot that Reinstein saved, but LeFave stuffed the rebound into the open net to make it 4-2.
The Lancers made things interesting with a late goal. With an extra skater on the ice, Worcester State kept pressure in the offensive zone. Drevitch took the puck from the right corner and sent it out to junior Cody Weaver (Warwick, R.I.), who slid into the middle and put a wrist shot through traffic high to the glove side to make it a one-score game with just 34.7 seconds to play. Plymouth controlled the faceoff, though, and the Lancers were unable to get another shot on net.
The game featured the top two goalies in the conference. Morelli turned away 23 shots to improve to 8-1-0, while Reinstein made 38 stops but fell to 8-2-0 on the year. Morelli leads Reinstein in save percentage (.944 to .940), but Reinstein holds a slight advantage in goals against average (1.51 to 1.55).
Plymouth State is on the road on Thursday, playing at Fitchburg State (7:00 p.m.) in another MASCAC contest. The Panthers are back at home again next Saturday (Jan. 13) against UMass Dartmouth.
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