Barone scores twice as Panthers turn to MASCAC Tournament
WESTFIELD, Mass. – Westfield State University scored three unanswered goals in the third period to rally past Plymouth State University, 5-3, in a Massachusetts State Collegiate Athletic Conference (MASCAC) men's ice hockey game at Amelia Park Ice Arena on Tuesday night.
The Panthers (15-7-3, 12-4-2 MASCAC) now turn their attention to the MASCAC Tournament, which opens with first round action on Saturday (Feb. 23). PSU enters the tournament as the top seed for the third straight year and will host a semifinal game next Tuesday (Feb. 26) at Hanaway Rink.
With the win, Westfield State improves to 14-8-3 and 11-6-1 in league action and secures the tournament's second seed.
In a potential finals preview, the Owls scored the lone goal of the first period only to see PSU rally with three second period tallies. Sophomore JR Barone (West Chester, Pa.) scored twice in less than two minutes to put the Panthers ahead, 2-1, and after Westfield knotted the score at 2-2, senior Matt Volonnino (Hackettstown, N.J.) restored the lead for Plymouth State.
The score remained 3-2 through the majority of the third period, but Westfield tied the game with 3:09 remaining, then potted the game-winner with just 36 seconds left on the clock. An empty-net goal wrapped up the win for the hosts.
The Final Score:
Plymouth State 3, Westfield State 5
Plymouth State (15-7-3, 12-4-2 MASCAC)
Westfield State (14-8-3, 11-6-1 MASCAC)
How it Happened:
* Westfield got out to a 1-0 lead at the 6:40 mark of the first. Junior Pearce Vance (Berkley, Mich.) caused a PSU turnover on the nearside half boards and classmate Francois-Xavier Girard (St. Lazare, Que.) snagged the loose puck and whipped a wrist shot from the top of the right face-off circle past senior goaltender Evan Morelli (Reading, Mass.).
* The Panthers evened things at one at the 8:09 mark of the second. Brett Backman (Cos Cobb, Conn.) took the puck from behind the net, drawing the attention of Westfield State goaltender Thierry Messervier (Montreal, Que.), then flicked a backhanded pass to Barone all alone in the nearside slot, who one-timed it into the empty net.
* Barone's goal opened the flood gates as the teams combined for three goals in just 3:15 of action. Barone tallied his second of the game to put PSU in front at 10:02 of the period when he skated through the neutral zone on the nearside before firing a wrist shot to the top left corner to make it a 2-1 game.
* Westfield countered two minutes later. Morelli made multiple close range stops, but junior Daniel Backstrom (Helsinki, Finland) was finally able to lift a backhander to the top right corner, tying the game with 7:22 left in the frame.
* PSU answered less than 40 seconds later. Senior Michael Covach (Shillington, Pa.) forced a turnover and skated down the nearside before launching a shot from the top of the circle. Messervier was able to deflect it to the far side boards, but senior Ryan Stevens (Colleyville, Texas) picked up the loose puck and shot a pass to Volonnino in front, and his shot rang the post and deflected in for a 3-2 lead.
* Plymouth held onto the one-goal lead for the majority of the third period, until Westfield finally pulled even with 3:09 left to play on a goal from sophomore Josh Boulos (Burlington, Mass.).
* The Owls went up with just 36 seconds remaining. Westfield won a face-off deep in their own zone and fired the puck around the boards, where junior Robert Neuwirth (Zlin, Czech Republic) picked it up and skated in on the far side for a breakaway. He made a move around a PSU defender and Girard was there on the backside to find the back of the net.
* Westfield added an empty-netter to account for the final score.
Inside the Numbers:
* Barone's two goals give him 11 on the year.
* Volonnino notched two points with his team-leading 17th goal and his 18th assist of the year. He now stands at 97 career points.
* Morelli finished with 32 saves but fell to 13-6-3, while Messervier made 43 stops to improve to 14-7-3.
* Half of the Panthers' 46 shots came in the second period alone.
* Neither team was able to produce on the power play as the teams combined to go scoreless in ten opportunities.
* Plymouth State will host a semifinal contest next Tuesday (Feb. 26) at 7:00 p.m. at Hanaway Rink. The official bracket will be announced by the MASCAC tomorrow, though the Panthers are expected to face the winner of the Fitchburg State and Worcester State, who play Saturday (Feb. 23) in the first round.
* The Owls will take on the winner of the other first round game between third-seeded UMass Dartmouth and sixth-seeded Salem State.
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