NEW BEDFORD, Mass. – University of Massachusetts Dartmouth freshman Jeff Kirkwood (Ithaca, N.Y.) recorded his first career multi-goal game to power the Corsairs to a 7-2 victory over Fitchburg State University this afternoon in a Massachusetts State Collegiate Athletic Conference (MASCAC) men's ice hockey contest. UMass Dartmouth also clinched the No. 3 seed and home ice advantage in the quarterfinal round of the upcoming MASCAC Championship tournament.
Prior to the start of the contest, the Corsairs honored their four seniors—Matt Baldino (Woburn, Mass.), Jon Houk (Richboro, Pa.), Mike Kelly (Stoneham, Mass.), and Tanner Zacharewicz (Ludlow, Mass.)—that were playing in their final regular-season home contest at Hetland Arena.
Score: UMass Dartmouth 7, Fitchburg State 2
Records: UMass Dartmouth (16-8-0, 11-6-0 MASCAC) | Fitchburg State (10-14-1, 7-10-1 MASCAC)
How It Happened:
Kirkwood helped UMass Dartmouth match its highest offensive output of the season with a career-high three points, on two goals and an assist. Junior Brandon Berkley (Scottsdale, Ariz.) also contributed a marker and two helpers, while Kelly turned in a balanced attack with the game-winning goal and an assist. Junior Jerry Laakso (Tampere, Finland) and sophomore Brendan McDonough (Wilmington, Mass.) each dished out a pair of assists in the victory.
UMass Dartmouth exploded for four goals in the second period to break open the conference contest. Kirkwood scored his second goal of the contest just 2:21 into the second stanza to double the Corsairs' advantage at 2-0. Fitchburg State responded with a power-play goal three minutes later to whittle the deficit to 2-1. However, UMass Dartmouth struck twice in the span of less than two and a half minutes to regain control of the contest. Kelly converted on the power-play for his team-leading 15th goal of the season, while sophomore Hunter Wilhoite (Brentwood, Tenn.) notched his first goal in a Corsair sweater to extend the lead to 4-1. The Falcons cut the hosts' advantage in half at the 11-minute mark, but UMass Dartmouth answered late in the period when Berkley potted his ninth marker of the campaign to give the Corsairs the 5-2 lead heading into the second intermission.
UMass Dartmouth registered a pair of power-play goals in the third to seal the contest. Junior Casey Shea (Woburn, Mass.) earned his 12th goal of the season just 57 seconds into the frame, while Tanner Zacharewicz lifted his own rebound past the Fitchburg State netminder with 67 seconds remaining in regulation to close out the scoring.
Inside the Numbers:
- Drew Michals (Newton, Mass.) stopped 45 of the 47 shots he faced to backstop the Corsairs to the victory.
- Kirby Saari was credited with 29 saves before being replaced by Quinn Wold at the start of the third period. Wold posted 16 stops over the final 20 minutes.
- Shea leads the MASCAC in assists (26), points (38), and power-play points (17), while Laakso is atop the conference standings in points by a defenseman (24).
- UMass Dartmouth won the season series against Fitchburg State with both victories inside Hetland Arena.
- UMass Dartmouth recorded three power-play goals for the fourth time this season.
UMass Dartmouth will wrap up the regular-season at Framingham State on Tuesday, Feb. 21. The puck is scheduled to drop at 7:30 p.m.