Panthers' first round game set for Saturday
PLYMOUTH, N.H. – The NCAA has revealed the bracket for the 2019 NCAA Division III Men's Ice Hockey Championship and Plymouth State University will visit #6/#8 Hobart College for a first round game on Saturday (Mar. 9) at 7:00 p.m. at The Cooler in Geneva, N.Y.
The Panthers (17-7-3) blanked Salem State University by a 3-0 score to capture their third MASCAC title in program history on Saturday, while Hobart (19-7-2) received one of four at-large bids after falling to Norwich University, 2-1, in the championship game of the New England Hockey Conference (NEHC) Tournament.
Tickets for the first round game will be $6 for adults, $4 for students with ID and $3 for children ages 3-11. Children two-and-under are free. Gates open at 5:30 p.m. and there are no presales. A digital copy of the NCAA Tournament program can be found here: https://www.ncaa.com/DIIIMensIceHockey.
Plymouth State is making its third NCAA tournament appearance, but are searching for the first tournament win in school history. Most recently PSU was nipped by Norwich, 3-2, to end the 2014-15 season and the Panthers fell to Wentworth by a 3-1 margin in 2011-12.
Seniors Michael Covach (Shillington, Pa.), Ryan Stevens (Colleyville, Texas) and Matt Volonnino (Hackettstown, N.J.) headline a powerful PSU offense, as all three are among the top 25 point scorers in the nation. Covach is 15th in the country with 1.48 points per game after totaling 12 goals and a team-leading 28 assists over his 27 games.
Stevens, the MASCAC Tournament Most Valuable Player, is 20th in the nation averaging 1.44 points per game. He enters the NCAA Tournament with 11 goals and 25 assists and recorded his 100th career point in mid-January.
Volonnino is the Panthers' top goal-scorer with 19 tallies on the year, while also adding 19 assists. He joined Stevens among Plymouth's all-time greats by becoming the 13th player in program history to reach 100 career points with an assist on PSU's game-winning goal in the MASCAC title game. As a team, Plymouth State averages 3.96 goals per game this season, the ninth-highest scoring offense in all of Division III.
Senior Evan Morelli (Reading, Mass.) has been strong between the pipes for the Panthers. He allowed just one goal in the entirety of the MASCAC Tournament and registered his school-record ninth career shutout in the title game. He has logged the eighth most minutes in all of Division III (1457:56) and is 34th nationally with a 2.30 goals against average and 44th in the country with a .915 save percentage, while his 15-6-3 mark give him a .688 winning percentage, the 20th best in the nation.
Hobart is making its fifth straight and ninth overall appearance in the NCAA tournament. The Statesmen are 3-8 all-time in tournament action, having reached the semifinals in both 2005-06 and 2008-09.
Senior Jonas Toupal (Vcelna, Czech Republic) and freshman Zach Tyson (Dublin, Ohio) share the team-lead with 26 points each. Toupal has 12 goals and 14 assists, while Tyson has a team-high 20 assists and six goals. Sophomore Travis Schneider (Palm Beach Gardens, Fla.) is the top goal-scorer after lighting the lamp 14 times on the season. As a team Hobart averages 4.04 goals per game and is currently eighth, one spot ahead of PSU, in national scoring average.
The Statesmen boast a pair of top goaltenders between freshman Liam Lascelle (Cornwall, Ontario) and junior Alexander Connal (Simsbury, Conn.). Lascelle is in the top ten nationally in goals against average (1.67) and save percentage (.936), and sports an 8-2-2 mark with four shutouts while logging 755:30 in net, while Connal has an 8-5-0 record, 2.30 GAA and .907 save percentage over 782:00 minutes of action.
The first round winner will advance to the quarterfinals to face Oswego State on March 16, and the highest remaining seed will host the Frozen Four the following weekend with the national semifinals set for March 22, and the championship game on March 23.
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