Four different Panthers score as win streak reaches eight
WORCESTER, Mass. – Four different players scored and junior Evan Morelli (Reading, Mass.) turned aside 31 shots as Plymouth State University knocked off Worcester State University, 4-1, in a Massachusetts State Collegiate Athletic Conference (MASCAC) men's ice hockey game at the Worcester Ice Center on Thursday night.
With their eighth-straight victory the Panthers inch closer to locking up another MASCAC regular season title, while running their MASCAC winning streak to 12 straight games. Worcester State, responsible for the Panthers lone conference setback, falls to 11-7-1 overall and 6-6-1 in league play.
Junior Ryan Stevens (Colleyville, Texas) put the Panthers ahead with his seventh goal of the year late in the first period. With just 1:25 left in the opening period Stevens had the puck at the bottom of the right circle and, while under pressure, lifted a backhanded shot over the leg pad of WSU sophomore goalie Josh Reinstein (Woodland Hills, Calif.).
PSU added a pair of insurance markers in the second period to build a 3-0 lead. After a turnover on the left side, sophomore Tim Larocque (Middleboro, Mass.) sent a centering pass to freshman Christian La Croix (Northford, Conn.), who absolutely blasted a one-timer past Reinstein to the glove side at the 13:45 mark.
Junior Ludvig Steenberg (Stockholm, Sweden) made it 3-0 just before the end of the period. Freshman Brett Backman (Cos Cob, Conn.) blocked a shot at the point, then charged down the right side before cutting towards the middle of the ice at the right circle. He passed across the ice to Steenberg, who gathered the puck and fired home a wrist shot with just five seconds left in the period.
Plymouth added another goal 6:58 into the final period. Freshman Jake Gerbner (Havertown, Pa.) skated down the right wing on a one-on-one break, then found junior Cam Cundy (Portsmouth, N.H.) on a wing-to-wing pass. Cundy skated hard to the near side of the net, then put on the brakes. As the Worcester State goalie laid out for the save, Cundy tucked the puck into the open net on the backhand.
The Lancers spoiled Morelli's shutout attempt with a power play strike in the final 2:17. Junior Andrew Etheridge (Burrillville, R.I.) one-timed a pass from sophomore Nick Patullo (Doylestown, Pa.) at the top of the crease to account for the 4-1 final.
Morelli finished with 31 saves and improved his league-leading record to 13-1-0 while running his personal winning streak to eight in a row. Reinstein (9-7-0) took the loss for the Lancers, making 21 saves but allowing three goals through two periods of action. Junior Cory Lignelli (Glastonbury, Conn.) relieved for the third period and made seven saves.
PSU will host second place Fitchburg State University in another league game on Saturday at Hanaway Rink (6:00 p.m.). The Panthers currently own a 9-point lead over the Falcons and a win or tie would secure the regular season title for the fifth time in seven years.
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