Covach, Steenberg score twice as Panthers prepare for MASCAC Tournament
PLYMOUTH, N.H. – Juniors Michael Covach (Shillington, Pa.) and Ludvig Steenberg (Stockholm, Sweden) each tallied a pair of goals as Plymouth State University doubled up Westfield State University, 6-3, in the Massachusetts State Collegiate Athletic Conference (MASCAC) regular season finale for both teams at Hanaway Rink on Tuesday night.
Plymouth State improves to 19-4-2 (15-2-1 MASCAC) while the Owls drop to 10-13-1 (8-10-0 MASCAC). The 19 regular season wins are just one shy of the program record set during the 2015-16 season.
Steenberg got the scoring started in the first period after backhanding a rebound into the net. Junior Quinn Carroll (Amherst, N.H.) had fired a shot from the inside of the right circle that Westfield State sophomore goalie Kameron Limburg (Howell, Mich.) turned aside, but the rebound went right to Steenberg to planted it at the 9:06 mark to give the home team the lead.
PSU scored three times in an eight-minute span in the second period to seize control. Freshman Jake Gerbner (Havertown, Pa.) absorbed a hit behind the Westfield goal, then passed along the boards to classmate JR Barone (West Chester, Pa.), before slipping away from his defender and into the slot. Barone fired a pass back to Gerbner and the rookie one-timed it to the far post for his third tally of the year at the 7:42 mark.
Covach upped the lead to 3-0 six minutes later when senior Chris Zuccaro (Hudson, N.H.) played the puck from behind the Westfield goal to Covach in the slot. Covach pushed in low to the far post with 5:35 remaining in the period.
Steenberg added his second of the game and seventh of the season just 92 seconds later. Freshman Marc Happy (Sterling, Mass.) fired a shot from the point that Limburg kicked aside. Carroll corralled the loose puck and slid it to Steenberg in front of the net, who fired low to the glove side.
The Owls got on the board in the closing seconds of the period when sophomore Rob Neuwirth (Zlin, Czech Republic) streaked down the ice and past a PSU defender. His shot was saved by junior Evan Morelli (Reading, Mass.), but sophomore F.X. Girard (St. Lazare, Que.) was there to put in the rebound.
Both teams added a pair of goals in the final 20 minutes. Covach notched his fifth in the last two games with a man advantage at the 3:06 mark before sophomore Samuel Gagnon (L'ile-Bizard, Que.) countered for the Owls at 9:30.
Sophomore Alec LeFave (Hudson, N.H.) made it 6-2 when he skated in alone, faked left and went to the backhand to beat Limburg top shelf to the far post at the 10:32 mark, before senior Nik Passero (Fort Erie, Ont.) capped the scoring with an absolute snipe from the top of the right wing circle high to the near post with 1:50 to play.
Morelli finished with 20 saves to improve to 16-2-1 on the season, while Limburg was the hard luck loser making 42 saves but dropping to 9-12-1.
PSU will be the #1 seed for the MASCAC Tournament and receive a bye into the semifinal round. Westfield State will enter the tournament as the #5 seed and will travel to #4 seed University of Massachusetts Dartmouth for a 5:30 p.m. game on Saturday. Plymouth will face the winner next Tuesday (Feb. 27) at 7:00 p.m.
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