Top-seeded Panthers to host Worcester State in semifinal game
PLYMOUTH, N.H. – The drive for Plymouth State University's men's ice hockey team's third Massachusetts State Collegiate Athletic Conference (MASCAC) tournament championship begins tonight as the top-seeded Panthers host fourth-seeded Worcester State University for a semifinal game at Hanaway Rink at 7:00 p.m.
PSU clinched its seventh regular season title in eight years last week, claiming the top seed for the tournament for the third straight year. The Panthers (15-7-3) are set to square off against a Worcester State (15-9-2) team that has won three straight games after holding off fifth-seeded Fitchburg State University by a 5-3 score in the tournament's first round on Saturday.
Doors open at 6:00 p.m. and there are no advanced ticket sales for the game. Plymouth State season passes are valid for all MASCAC Tournament games. The league has produced a digital program available at https://www.mascac.com/sports/mice/2018-19/files/MIH_SF_1_seed.pdf.
The teams faced off three times during the regular season, with Plymouth State holding a 2-1 record as the home team won each contest. PSU doubled up the Lancers by a 6-3 score on Oct. 30, but WSU returned the favor with a 4-1 win on Jan. 5. The Panthers won the rubber match, rallying from a pair of one-goal, third period deficits to claim a 4-3 overtime win on Jan. 31
PSU boasts the MASCAC's top scoring offense, averaging 4.11 goals per game behind a trio of seniors who have all accumulated more than 30 points on the year. Michael Covach (Shillington, Pa.) leads the team with 37 points (11 goals, 26 assists), while Matt Volonnino (Hackettstown, N.J.) is the Panthers' top goal-scorer after lighting the lamp 17 times. His 35 points are second on the team, with Ryan Stevens (Colleyville, Texas) adding ten goals and 21 assists.
Senior goaltender Evan Morelli (Reading, Mass.) will be between the pipes. He leads the MASCAC in winning percentage (11-3-2, .750), is second in the league with a 2.40 goals against average and fourth in save percentage (.909).
Worcester State is led by seniors Mitch Purdie (Peterborough, Ont.) and Mike Moran (Milford, Mass.) and sophomore Matthew Manning (Novi, Mich.). Purdie leads the team with 24 assists and 33 points, while Moran is the top goal-scorer with 12 goals and 24 points. Manning has totaled 11 goals and 19 assists on the season, while the team averages 3.17 goals per game, fourth in the conference.
Freshman Ryan Hoff (Brockton, Mass.) will get the start in goal for the Lancers. He's been impressive in limited action this season, going 4-0-1 with a 1.77 goals against and .940 save percentage in five starts, including a 38 save shutout in his collegiate debut on Feb. 9.
Second-seed Westfield State University hosts sixth-seeded Salem State University in tonight's other semifinal. The winners will advance to Saturday's championship game at the site of the highest remaining seed.
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