Panthers seeking program's third NCAA Tournament appearance
PLYMOUTH, N.H. – Plymouth State University, the 2017-18 Massachusetts State Collegiate Athletic Conference (MASCAC) regular season champions, have been selected to repeat after a vote by the league's seven head coaches.
The Panthers collected five first place votes for 35 points after finishing last season with a 15-2-1 mark in the league while wrapping up a sixth regular season title in seven years. PSU was upset in the semifinal round of the tournament.
Fitchburg State received the final two first place votes for 31 points. The Falcons finished with an 11-4-3 conference record a year ago and used a strong playoff run to capture the MASCAC Tournament championship and the league's automatic berth to the NCAA Tournament.
Worcester State claims the third spot after going 8-8-2 in the league last year, while Salem State and UMass Dartmouth, which knocked the Panthers out of the tournament, were tied for fourth.
Westfield State and Framingham State round out the preseason poll. The complete poll and release from the MASCAC can be found here.
PSU was the lone MASCAC program to receive national recognition in the initial USCHO poll released earlier this week.
Plymouth State welcomes back 12 of 13 players who finished with ten or more points last winter. Among the bunch are senior Matt Volonnino (Hackettstown, N.J.), the Panthers' leading goal-scorer (14) a year ago, and classmate Ryan Stevens (Colleyville, Texas), who notched a team high 37 points (10 goals, 27 assists). Stevens was named to the All-MASCAC First Team for a second straight year, while Volonnino, a former Rookie of the Year, was selected to the Second Team.
Bergstrom, a junior defenseman, led the league in defensemen scoring a year ago after totaling six goals and 11 assists in 15 MASCAC games. He ended the year fifth in the nation in scoring among defensemen, averaging 1.10 points per game, to collect First Team recognition.
Morelli, a senior goaltender, had one of the top seasons in program history after finishing the year with a 1.93 goals against average, the second lowest mark in program history. He posted a 16-3-1 mark between the pipes, the second most wins all-time, and led the league in winning percentage and goals against average to pick up Second Team honors for a second consecutive year.
Perron is also a two-time Second Team honoree. The senior defenseman was second to Bergstrom in defensemen scoring for the Panthers with six goals and 14 assists. He finished fourth among MASCAC defensemen with 0.89 points per game after recording 10 points over the final six games, including a three assist performance in the regular season finale.
The Panthers open the 2018-19 season with a pair of games at Hanaway Rink in the coming days. PSU hosts Johnson & Wales in the season opener on Saturday (Oct. 27) with puck drop set for 7:00 p.m., then welcomes Worcester State to town for the MASCAC opener on Tuesday (Oct. 30) at 6:00 p.m.
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