PLYMOUTH, N.H. – Salem State saw its Cinderella run through the MASCAC Tournament come to an end on Saturday. The Vikings (10-17-1) had knocked off third-seed University of Massachusetts Dartmouth and second-seed Westfield State University to advance to their eighth title game in nine years. However, the Vikings succumbed 3-0 to top-seed Plymouth State (17-7-3) in the the Massachusetts State Collegiate Athletic Conference (MASCAC) men's ice hockey tournament championship in front of a sold out crowd at Hanaway Rink. With the win, Plymouth State earns the league's automatic berth to the NCAA Division III Men's Ice Hockey Tournament for the third time in program history.
Goalie Sean Cleary (Barnstable, Mass.) kept the Vikings in the game as the Panthers' offense controlled the tempo from the opening puck drop. Despite being outshot 21-6 in the first period, Salem State trailed just 1-0 thanks to Cleary's efforts in goal. Ryan Stevens (Colleyville, Texas) broke free in the final minute of the first, then put a move on Cleary for the periods only goal.
The Panthers kept up the pressure on in the second, increasing the shot disparity to 38-12. Later Michael Covach (Shillington, Pa.) added a goal at the 10:07 mark of the second before Henrik Axelson (Danderyd, Sweden) put the game away with his tally with just over three minutes to play in the third.
Stevens with a goal and assist collected tournament Most Valuable Player honors. The 6-3 forward notched a goal and four assists in the Panthers' two playoff wins.
Matt Volonnino (Hackettstown, N.J.) picked up an assist on PSU's first goal to record his 100th career point to become the 13th player in program history to reach the milestone, while classmate Evan Morelli (Reading, Mass.) made 17 saves to record his program-record ninth career shutout. Cleary finished with 50 saves to tie a career-high.