WATERVILLE VALLEY, N.H. – Junior Paul Feeney (Lowell, Mass.) and senior Max Wernert (Greenwich, Conn.) scored two goals apiece Saturday night to lead fourth-seeded Plymouth State University to a 6-1 triumph over fifth-seeded Fitchburg State College in the opening round of the ECAC Northeast Conference men’s ice hockey playoffs at Waterville Valley Ice Arena.
Freshman goaltender Karl Helgesson (Lerum, Sweden) made 23 saves for the Panthers before Fitchburg State broke the shutout with two minutes remaining. PSU won for the fifth straight game and seventh in the last eight outings, improving to 13-9-2 on the season, the program’s best record since the 1993-94 team finished with a 17-8 overall record. Fitchburg State completes its season at 12-12-1 overall.
Plymouth State, making its first play-off appearance in three years, registered its first post-season victory since defeating Skidmore College in the opening round of the 1994 tournament. The Panthers advance to play top-seeded Curry College on Wednesday (Mar. 2). The Colonels, 17-5-3 overall, moved on Saturday with a 3-2 victory over eighth-seeded Framingham State.
The hosts held a 1-0 lead after the opening 20 minutes, as Feeney scored his first of the game from junior linemates Dennis Kane (Westford, Mass.) and Rory Nickerson (West Chatham, Mass.) just 2:49 into the game. PSU extended the lead to 2-0 just a minute, 19 seconds into the second period on a goal by senior Michal Bodnar (Olomouc, Czech Rep.), his third straight game with a goal.
It was still a 2-0 game heading into the third period, but PSU poured it on. Wernert scored his first of the game 43 seconds into the period, with Kane and Nickerson picking up assists, and Feeney’s second on the game at the 5:13 mark, on the power play, made it a four-goal game. Junior Matt Withers (Laconia, N.H.) and Wernert added two more goals for PSU before sophomore Mike LaRoche (Townsend, Mass.) put the Falcons on the board with a late goal.
PSU, which split a pair of games against Fitchburg earlier this season, outshot the Falcons, 29-24. Sophomore goalie Devan McConnell (Lake Stevens, Wash.) made 21 saves before being replaced with five minutes remaining.
— 30 —