NEW BEDFORD, Mass. -- Junior Steven Leonard’s (Rockaway Park, N.Y.) goal 8:47 into the third period lifted UMass Dartmouth to a key 2-2 Massachusetts State Collegiate Athletic Conference ice hockey tie with Worcester State Saturday evening at Hetland Arena.
The draw enables the host Corsairs (13-10-2, 10-6-2 MASCAC) to vault into second place in the conference standings, as UMass Dartmouth (22) stands one point ahead of Westfield State (21) after the Owls dropped a 5-3 league decision at Fitchburg State earlier in the day. The Corsairs, who completed their regular season slate with tonight’s outing, can earn an automatic berth into the MASCAC semifinals should Westfield State lose its last regular season contest with Plymouth State on Tuesday evening, but either a win or a tie would lift the Owls into the second place position.
After a scoreless first period, freshman Nick Pennucci (Worcester, Mass.) staked the visiting Lancers (12-9-2, 7-7-2 MASCAC) to a 1-0 lead on a feed from fellow freshman Brian Smith (Dracut, Mass.) 2:37 into the second stanza, but junior Cameron Mack (Long Beach, Calif.) evened matters for UMass Dartmouth with 4:19 to play in the frame on an assist from sophomore Eric Bolden (Oswego, Ill.). Worcester State regained the advantage 5:49 into the third period when freshman Henry Bruckner (Franklin, Mass.) scored on feeds from senior Mitch Purdie (Peterborough, Ont.) and sophomore Kyle Hayter (Helena, Mont.) to set up Leonard’s tying tally, who took a pass from senior Hunter Wilhoite (Brentwood, Tenn.) and forged the draw.
Senior Tommy Bay (Duluth, Ga.) made 26 saves in goal in the tie for UMass Dartmouth, while freshman Ryan Hoff (Brockton, Mass.) made 27 stops between the pipes for Worcester State. The Corsairs outshot the Lancers by a 29-28 margin on the evening and held a 38-37 advantage in the faceoff circle to finish with a 2-0-1 mark in the season series between the two squads.
UMass Dartmouth, which would lose a head-to-head tiebreaker with Westfield State after dropping two of three matchups with the Owls this winter, will await its seeding in the MASCAC championships, which begin with quarterfinal round action next Saturday, February 23rd. Worcester State hosts Fitchburg State in its MASCAC regular season finale on Tuesday evening in Worcester, Mass. beginning at 6:00 pm.
(Photo Credit: Kyle Diangkinay '19, Athletic Communications Graduate Assistant)