Morelli stops 38 shots; Stevens scores for Panthers
GENEVA, N.Y. – Senior Evan Morelli (Reading, Mass.) made 38 saves and classmate Ryan Stevens (Colleyville, Texas) scored the game's first goal, but #6/#8 Hobart College rallied past Plymouth State University, 2-1, in the first round of the 2019 NCAA Division III Men's Ice Hockey Tournament at The Cooler on Saturday night.
Stevens tallied the lone goal of the first period after a beautiful move to beat the Hobart goalie. The Panthers nearly went ahead 2-0 early in the second period but a remarkable save kept the game at 1-0 and five minutes later the Statesmen tied the game at 1-1. The hosts pulled ahead midway through the third period and PSU was unable to score the equalizer.
Hobart improves to 20-7-2 and advances to face Oswego State in the quarterfinals next Saturday (Mar. 16), while the Panthers' season comes to an end with a 17-8-3 record.
The Final Score:
Plymouth State 1, #6/#8 Hobart 2
Plymouth State (17-8-3)
How it Happened:
* After coming up empty on an early power play chance, Stevens gave the Panthers a first period lead. Senior Matt Volonnino (Hackettstown, N.J.) set Stevens free on a break out along the nearside and Stevens skated in and toe-dragged around freshman goalie Liam Lascelle (Cornwall, Ontario) to grab the lead at the 5:48 mark.
* Hobart applied extended zone pressure during a power play chance, but Morelli was able to preserve the lead.
* The Statesmen nearly evened the score with a shorthanded goal late in the frame, but Morelli stoned sophomore Travis Schneider (Palm Beach Gardens, Fla.) and a PSU defender cleared away the rebound.
* Sophomore Henrik Axelson (Danderyd, Sweden) had a shot at an open net early in the second, but Lascelle, already without a stick, recovered to make an incredible glove save to keep it a 1-0 game.
* Junior Julien Denicourt (Bromont, Quebec) tied the game 12:13 into the second when he skated in on the nearside and fired a shot to the low left corner from the top of the faceoff circle.
* Hobart briefly thought it had taken the lead later in the period when a tipped shot momentarily got behind a screened Morelli, but the puck never crossed the goal line.
* The Statesmen again thought they scored in the first five minutes of the third period, but the officials had blown the play dead just before a Hobart player knocked the puck loose and into the net.
* Hobart pulled in front at the 8:22 mark of the third when sophomore Alec Robitaille (Manchester, N.H.) stuffed a rebound past Morelli to make it 2-1.
* Stevens sent a puck through the crease on a backhand with the Panthers on a power play in the final two minutes, but nobody was there to bang it home.
* Moments later junior Victor Bergstrom (Angelholm, Sweden) had a scoring chance in the nearside slot when he one-timed a feed from behind the net, but Lascelle made a brilliant stop.
Inside the Numbers:
* Morelli was superb between the pipes making 38 saves on the night, but ending his season with a 15-7-3 record.
* Lascelle made 13 saves to improve to 9-2-2.
* Hobart outshot the Panthers by a 40-14 margin.
* Neither team was successful on the power play, as PSU finished 0-for-3 and Hobart 0-for-5.
* Plymouth State blocked 12 shots in the game.
* The setback marks the final game in the careers of Volonnino, Stevens, Morelli, Ludvig Steenberg (Stockholm, Sweden), Quinn Carroll (Amherst, N.H.), Nic LeFave (Hudson, N.H.), Michael Covach (Shillington, Pa.), Cam Cundy (Portsmouth, N.H.) and Tim Perron (Northborough, Mass.).
* Morelli ends the season with a 2.29 goals against average, the eighth lowest in program history, and a career GAA of 2.13, the lowest of all time. His 1,655 career saves are fifth most, while his 45 wins are second most and nine shutouts are a program record.
* Stevens wraps up his career with 42 goals and 72 assists. His 114 career points as a Panther are number five all time, while his 72 assists are tied for the fifth most in program history.
* Volonnino finishes with 49 career goals (seventh all-time) and 52 assists and his 101 career points are the 11th most in program history. His 19 goals on the year are tied for the seventh most in a season.
* Covach closes the season as the team's leading point-scorer with 40 points (12 goals, 28 assists), just ahead of Volonnino (19-20-39) and Stevens (12-25-37).
Straight From the Coach's Mouth:
"The game played out almost exactly the way we had planned," said head coach Craig Russell. "We were expecting a low-scoring, defensive game and that's what we got. We knew we had to be strong in front of Evan [Morelli] and I thought we were really good at not giving them extra opportunities. We had a chance on a late power play, but couldn't convert it. I'm proud of the guys for accomplishing what we did. We went through a lot this year and it was nice to see those seniors celebrate a championship."
* Plymouth State ends the season with a 17-8-3 mark.
* Hobart advances to the quarterfinals next Saturday (Mar. 16).
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