WATERVILLE VALLEY, N.H. – Sophomore goalie Karl Helgesson (Lerum, Sweden) stopped all 28 shots he faced Saturday night to lead third-seeded Plymouth State University to a 1-0 victory over sixth-seeded Johnson & Wales University in the first round of the ECAC Northeast Conference men’s ice hockey Tournament.
The Panthers improve to 16-8-1 overall and advance to the semifinal round next Wednesday at second-seeded and defending champion Curry College (time TBA). The Colonels advanced Saturday evening with a 5-1 victory over seventh-seeded Fitchburg State. The 16 wins for PSU is the third-most in a season in school history, and the most since the 1993-94 team won 17 games.
Plymouth State had a 31-28 shots-on-goal advantage over JWU, but the visiting Wildcats had more quality scoring opportunities. Helgesson was the difference, though, making seven saves in the first period, 12 in the second and nine in the third. It was Helgesson’s second career shutout, and PSU’s second straight whitewash. JWU completes the season at 10-15-1.
The only goal of the game was scored with 5:46 remaining in the second period, when PSU freshman defenseman Pat Turcotte (Goffstown, N.H.) fired a shot from the point that got past JWU freshman goalie Marcus Strang (Gothenburg, Sweden). Juniors Jay Londer (Philadelphia, Pa.) and Goose LaCroix (Moretown, Vt.) collected assists on the play. Turcotte’s goal spoiled an otherwise outstanding evening for Strang, who finished with 30 saves.
PSU’s win over Johnson & Wales was a little bit of sweet revenge. The Wildcats had handed the Panthers one of their two regular season conference losses this season, a 4-3 setback on Feb. 4.
Plymouth State’s semifinal game Wednesday at Curry will be a rematch of last year’s semifinal, which was won by Curry, 8-2. The Colonels also defeated PSU earlier this season, 3-2, on Jan. 31 at Waterville Valley.
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