Five different Panthers score as team fires 58 shots in victory
FITCHBURG, Mass. – Five different players scored and the Plymouth State University men's ice hockey team peppered freshman goaltender Brian McGrath (Worcester, Mass.) with 58 shots as the Panthers topped Fitchburg State University, 5-3, in a Massachusetts State Collegiate Athletic Conference (MASCAC) game at Wallace Civic Center on Thursday night.
Plymouth State moves to 11-3-1 overall and 7-1-0 in MASCAC contests. The Falcons (7-5-1, 3-4-1 MASCAC) fell for the 10th time in 11 match-ups with PSU. Plymouth topped FSU by a 2-0 score in early November.
After holding a 4-1 lead midway through the second period, the Falcons were able to cut the deficit to just one goal, 4-3, early in the third period. Junior Matt Volonnino (Hackettstown, N.J.) gave PSU some breathing room at the 4:10 mark. After receiving a pass at the top of the left circle, Volonnino skated wide around a defender before cutting to the net and ripping a shot high off the nearside post and in to account for the 5-3 final score.
Junior Michael Fretz (Seattle, Wash.) put the hosts ahead 1-0 just over four minutes into the opening frame, but less than three minutes later senior Chris Zuccaro (Hudson, N.H.) evened the score at one apiece with his fifth goal of the year. Zuccaro's goal was the first of four-straight strikes for the Panthers.
Junior Ludvig Steenberg (Stockholm, Sweden) skated in from the left circle and slipped a pass through the crease to sophomore Alec LeFave (Hudson, N.H.), who was all alone on the backside for an easy one-timer to put PSU in front 2-1 at the 14:38 mark.
Plymouth State took a two-goal lead with a power play goal from sophomore Victor Bergstrom (Angelholm, Sweden) 8:49 into the second period. A Fitchburg defenseman, falling down in front of the net, pushed a clearing attempt through the middle. The puck slid toward junior Quinn Carroll (Amherst, N.H.) just inside the blue line, who blasted a slapshot that Bergstrom tipped low to the right corner.
Three minutes later PSU had a 4-1 lead. Junior Tim Perron (Northborough, Mass.) picked off a cross-ice pass in the offensive zone, before skating to the right side. He cut to the net and beat McGrath to the low left.
The three-goal advantage was short lived, however, as the Falcons scored just 22 seconds later. Fretz, from behind the Panther goal, played the puck to senior James Gordon (Hingham, Mass.) in front for a one-timer to make it 4-2.
The Falcons increased the pressure, cutting the margin to 4-3 early in the third period. Junior Connor McPherson (Clovis, Calif.) picked off a clearing attempt along the sideboards, then fired a high shot. The puck deflected off a player in front of the goal and classmate Patrick Germain (Auburn, Mass.) backhanded it low to the far side just 92 seconds into the final frame, but junior goalie Evan Morelli (Reading, Mass.) held steady and Volonnino's pretty goal secured the win for the Panthers.
McGrath finished with a career-high 53 saves but suffered the setback to fall to 4-3-0, while counterpart Morelli made 23 stops to improve his MASCAC-leading record to 9-1-0. Zuccaro finished with a goal and two assists and has recorded at least one point in the last five games. Volonnino added a goal and an assist and junior Ryan Stevens (Colleyville, Texas) chipped in with two assists. Stevens' 16 helpers are second most in the MASCAC and 11th most in the nation.
Plymouth State will put its three-game winning streak on the line in another league game on Saturday. The Panthers will host the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth for a 6:00 p.m. contest at Hanaway Rink .
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