PLYMOUTH, N.H. – University of Massachusetts Dartmouth scored three unanswered goals, including a pair of markers in the third period, to overcome a 1-0 second period deficit to upset #13/#14 Plymouth State University, 3-1, this evening in the semifinals of the 2018 Massachusetts State Collegiate Athletic Conference (MASCAC) Ice Hockey Championship tournament inside Hanaway Rink.
Score: UMass Dartmouth 3, Plymouth State 1
Records: UMass Dartmouth 12-12-3 | Plymouth State 19-5-2
How it Happened
Plymouth State got it started after a scoreless first period when senior Chris Zuccaro (Hudson, N.J.) battled in traffic in the front of the net, getting a stick on the shot of Tim Perron (Northborough, Mass.) and redirecting it into the net for his ninth marker of the season to take the 1-0 margin.
UMass Dartmouth held off the revamped energy of the Panthers and were awarded with a pair of power play chances in just five minutes of play on the ice. On the second opportunity, the Corsairs cashed in as the league's top goal-scorer notched his 27th of the year with under two minutes left in the second when Jonathan Ruiz (Williamstown, N.J.) one-timed a pass in the open space from Steven Leonard (Rockaway Park, N.Y.), rifling the puck over the shoulder of the opposing keeper to level it at one.
After the intermission, the Corsairs killed off a penalty as the team's exchanged shots 5-4 in favor of Plymouth in the first five minutes of the finale period. But UMass Dartmouth was able to pull ahead 5:10 in when Jerry Laakso (Tempere, Finland) recorded his seventh goal and 35th point of the year off a slap shot from the top of the offensive zone. Plymouth State pushed for an equalizing goal throughout the next 13 minutes of play, but the Corsairs defense held firm while Drew Michals (Newton, Mass.) turned away six shots in the remainder of the period.
With 50 seconds left in the game, UMass sealed it up on their second power play marker of the contest when Leonard and Ruiz linked up again, this time reversing roles as Leonard deposited the puck into the top corner off the assist of Ruiz to put the game away with the 3-1 final.
Inside the Numbers
- The Corsairs will appear in their second MASCAC championship since joining the conference in the 2009-10. In their first appearance on March 2 2013, UMass Dartmouth defeated Plymouth State, 2-1, which marks the last time the Corsairs downed the Panthers.
- The win marks the second against a nationally-ranked opponent this season as the Corsairs took down UMass Boston on Dec. 9 when the Beacons were ranked #5/#6.
- Plymouth State is ranked No. 7 in the latest NCAA Division III Regional Rankings.
- Jonathan Ruiz tied the UMass Dartmouth single-season record for power play goals (13), matching the standard that was set by Steve Bartkus in 1997-98.
- Jerry Laakso moved into second place on the program's single-season defensemen scoring list (35) with the eventual game-winner. He is currently 15 points shy of Steve MacDonald's record.
- UMass Dartmouth held the conference's top power play unit scoreless on three opportunities while scoring on 2-of-4 chances themselves as the difference maker in the game.
- Ruiz increased his lead in the conference, now holding a five-goal margin over the next closest on the scoring list.
- Drew Michals posted a complete game between the iron, stopping 27 of 28 shots faced to pick up his ninth win of the season. On the other side of the ice, Evan Morrelli (Reading, Mass.) turned away 24 of 27 shots to take just his third loss of the season.
UMass Dartmouth will return to action at 7:30pm on Saturday, March 3, when the fourth-seeded Corsairs travel to second-seeded Fitchburg State University. The 2018 MASCAC Champion will earn an automatic berth into the 2018 NCAA Division III Ice Hockey Championship tournament.