McPherson scores twice, Panthers try for repeat on Saturday
PLYMOUTH, N.H. – Sophomore Mike McPherson (Somerville, Mass.) scored twice and top-seeded Plymouth State University held off upset-minded fourth-seeded Westfield State University, 4-2, in the semifinals of the Massachusetts State Collegiate Athletic Conference (MASCAC) men's ice hockey tournament at Hanaway Rink on Thursday night.
The Panthers will play for back-to-back MASCAC titles at home on Saturday (Mar. 7) against third-seeded UMass Dartmouth, which upset second-seeded Fitchburg State University, 4-0, in the evening's other semifinal contest.
PSU got on the board less than four minutes into the game and McPherson potted his first of the night to make it 2-0 midway through the opening period. Westfield came right back 17 seconds later, though, as the Panthers went into the first intermission with a 2-1 lead. McPherson buried his second of the game early in the second period, but again the Owls responded and the score stayed 3-2 until the final seconds when an empty netter secured the PSU victory.
Plymouth State improves to 14-9-3 and will make its eighth finals appearance in the last nine years on Saturday. Westfield State ends its season with a 12-10-5 record.
Plymouth State 4, Westfield State 2
Plymouth State (14-9-3)
Westfield State (12-10-5)
How it Happened.
- Plymouth State got out to a quick lead when freshman Marcus Seidl (Stockholm, Sweden) tipped in classmate Ted Austin's (Sylvania, Ohio) slapshot from the blueline just 3:38 into the opening period.
- The Panthers doubled their lead when McPherson banged home a rebound at 10:57, but Westfield State came right back 17 seconds later as senior Robert Neuwirth (Zlin, Czech Republic) converted a perfect give-and-go to make it a 2-1 game.
- Westfield opened the second with an extended power play, including 12 seconds of a 5-on-3, but senior goaltender Andreas Pettersson (Trollhattan, Sweden) stopped seven shots and the Panthers blocked two more to preserve the lead.
- Plymouth State rode the momentum from the penalty kill and McPherson potted his second of the night after a perfect feed from freshman Myles Abbate (Norwell, Mass.) through the crease at 3:37.
- The Owls came right back once again as junior Danny Ferri (Chelmsford, Mass.) snapped a wrist shot from the bottom of the right face-off circle to the far side post just 1:13 later.
- Westfield nearly evened the game in the final seconds when sophomore Justin Alves (Woburn, Mass.) got the puck on the post, but Pettersson dove across the crease to make an outstanding save and preserve the lead.
- The score remained the same with PSU putting extended pressure late in the third, but Owls' senior goalie Thierry Messervier (Montreal, Quebec) made save after save to keep it a one-goal game.
- Westfield State pulled Messervier in the final minute and senior Jake Gerbner (Havertown, Pa.) sent a clear the length of the ice for an empty net goal with two seconds remaining to send the Panthers to the title game.
Inside the Numbers:
- McPherson notched his ninth and tenth goals of the season and has four goals over his last three games while recording a point in five consecutive contests.
- Gerbner reached double figures with his tenth goal of the year and has six goals and eight points over his last five games.
- Abbate picked up a pair of assists and leads the team with 25 points on the year.
- Pettersson made 24 saves to improve to 13-4-3 for the Panthers.
- Messervier, who had allowed six goals in each of his last two games at Hanaway Rink, was solid with a 36-save effort, but fell to 11-10-4.
- The Panthers will try for the repeat on Saturday (Mar. 7) against third-seeded UMass Dartmouth. PSU won all three regular season meetings against the Corsairs and will be playing for a fourth MASCAC title. The winner receives the league's automatic berth to the NCAA Tournament.
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