FITCHBURG, Mass. – Despite leading the shot total 45-27, the #4 University of Massachusetts Dartmouth hockey team had their postseason journey fall short at the hands of #2 Fitchburg State as the Falcons earned a 2-0 victory in the MASCAC championship game at the Wallace Civic Center Saturday night.
Score: UMass Dartmouth 0, Fitchburg St. 2
Records: UMass Dartmouth 12-13-3 | Fitchburg St. 18-6-3
How it Happened
The final teams standing in the MASCAC came out of the gates with electrifying energy in the first period, exchanging up-tempo rushes down the ice to the tune of 18 shots as the Corsairs rifled off 11 of them. Neither team was able to capitalize on the chances, including one power play for each squad.
In the second, the Corsairs nearly jumped ahead with inches separating them from the lead when junior Brandan McDonough (Wilmington, Mass.) worked around a defender up close, lifting the puck top-left where it connected with pipe and ricocheted out of harm's way. The chippy-play escalated through the remainder of the second stanza with the team's combining for five penalties and Fitchburg State receiving the man-up situation three times.
On the second occasion, the Falcons got the first goal of the game on the board when junior Connor McPherson (Clovis, Calif.) fired from atop the offensive zone, watching the rubber bounce under the glove of Drew Michals (Newton, Mass.) following a redirection by Kyle Hillick (Byfield, Mass.) 16:54 into the middle frame.
With 14:54 to go in the contest, the Falcons upped the ante when Div. III's leading-playmaker, Nick DiNicola (Wolcott, Conn.), picked up his 35th assist of the season, baiting the defense with an aggressive take to the net before dishing off to Tyler Warila (Shirley, Mass.) who finished the drive for the 2-0 margin, giving us the final score.
Inside the Numbers
- Before the loss, UMass Dartmouth and Fitchburg St. yielded every possible result in the season-series with an overall record of 1-1-1.
- The game marked the first time since Feb. 28th 2015 that the team's met during postseason play, with the Corsairs coming away in the last meeting 5-4.
- The 2017-2018 championship contest was the first time in four seasons that did not feature Plymouth State and Salem State.
- The scoreless showing for the Corsairs marked the first time all year UMass Dartmouth was held without a goal.
- Michals posted a complete-game performance in net, halting 25 of 27 shots faced in three periods of play. On the other side, freshman Brian McGrath (Worcester, Mass.) willed the Falcons toward victory, stopping all 45 shots seen to seal his second shutout of the season.