Laviolette scores in fourth straight game for Panthers
PLYMOUTH, N.H. – Sophomore Peter Laviolette (Nashville, Tenn.) scored a goal for the fourth straight game as the Plymouth State University men's ice hockey team extended its hot start with a 5-2 win over Westfield State University in a Massachusetts State Collegiate Athletic Conference (MASCAC) game at Amelia Park Ice Arena on Saturday night.
The Panthers trailed in a game for the first time since Nov. 8 when Westfield got on the board with a power play tally early in the first period, but Laviolette picked up his fourth goal of the season five minutes later. PSU scored twice in the first five minutes of the second to take the lead for good. The Owls cut the deficit to one, 3-2, with another power play goal, but Plymouth State tacked on two insurance markers in the third period to lock up the win.
Laviolette finished with a goal and an assist.
The Panthers have won five straight and extend their unbeaten streak to nine games (8-0-1), while moving to 5-0-1 in league play. Westfield State is winless over its last games to fall to 3-4-2 and 2-3-0 in MASCAC action.
Plymouth State 5, Westfield State 2
Plymouth State 8-0-1, 5-0-1 MASCAC
Westfield State 3-4-2, 2-3-0 MASCAC
How it Happened:
* Westfield State scored first with a power play goal just 5:30 into the game when sophomore Josh Boulos (Burlington, Mass.) lit the lamp.
* Laviolette pulled the Panthers even five minutes later when he tipped in a shot from freshman Will Vanderveen (Troy, Mich.) from the right side.
* Plymouth State pulled ahead just 34 seconds into the second period when senior Ryan Stevens (Colleyville, Texas) picked up a loose puck in the offensive zone and sent a backhanded pass through the crease to classmate Matt Volonnino (Hackettstown, N.J.) on the far post. Volonnino was able to bat the puck through traffic and past Westfield State goaltender, and former Panther, Thierry Messervier (Montreal, Que.).
* Freshman Mike McPherson (Somerville, Mass.) notched his first career goal just over four minutes later to give the Panthers some breathing room. Classmate Grant Dewitt (Bowling Green, Ohio) passed the puck along the end boards to junior Alec LeFave (Hudson, N.H.), who found McPherson all alone in front of the goal. McPherson flipped the puck to the top right corner to make it 3-1.
* Westfield State cut into the deficit with another power play strike at the 13:13 mark of the period when junior Rob Neuwirth (Zlin, Czech Republic) deflected a shot from senior Wyatt Trumbley (Campbell River, B.C.) past goaltender Evan Morelli (Reading, Mass.).
* Laviolette made a great play to restore the two-goal advantage early in the third period. Streaking down the left side on a 2-on-1 break, the Westfield defenseman laid out but Laviolette slipped the puck around him to sophomore Henrik Axelson (Danderyd, Sweden), who poked it just inside the nearside post.
* Westfield was looking to cash in on another power play opportunity two minutes later, but senior Tim Perron (Northborough, Mass.) blocked a shot that deflected to classmate Quinn Carroll (Amherst, N.H.). Carroll sent Perron free along the right side and the defenseman skated all the way in to beat Messervier on the backhand.
Inside the Numbers:
* The first period deficit was the first time the Panthers had trailed in a game since the third period of the Nov. 8 match-up with Fitchburg State, the lone blemish (a tie) on PSU's otherwise spotless record.
* Laviolette has scored a goal in four straight games.
* Morelli improved to 7-0-1 between the pipes after making 16 saves, while Messervier dropped to 3-3-2 despite making 39 saves.
* The Panthers outshot Westfield State by a 44-18 margin.
* Entering the game the Panthers had given up just one power play goal in 44 attempts, but the Owls went 2-of-6 with the man advantage. Plymouth State came up empty on five power play opportunities.
* PSU now leads the nation in scoring averaging 5.56 goals per game. #2 SUNY Geneseo is second at 5.23.
Straight from the Coach's Mouth:
"I think we struggled in our own end and really had to weather the storm a few times," said head coach Craig Russell. "Westfield played aggressive all night and were opportunistic on their power play chances. Once we settled into the game we were able to cash in on a couple opportunities that gave us some breathing room. Definitely a lot to work on before Thursday, but happy we were able to get the win when we didn't play our best."
* PSU hosts Endicott College in the final game of the fall semester. The Gulls come to town on Thursday (Dec. 6) for a 6:00 p.m. start.
* Westfield State is also back in action on Thursday (Dec. 6), playing host to NCAA Division II Assumption College at 7:00 p.m.
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