The Plymouth State Panthers put themselves on the hockey map after winning the 2011-12 MASCAC championship, which also helped secure a first-ever trip to the NCAA D-III tournament. Opponents are now taking a closer look at the Panthers when the program pops up on their schedule.
However, it is not just other teams that are starting to take more notice of the Panthers.
“The community has really stepped up by purchasing six-times the amount of season tickets as last season,” stated fourth-year coach Craig Russell. “The fact that our guys can go into town to get a sandwich and be recognized by community members shows that there is a following bigger than any of us realize.”
This past Thursday night, a sellout crowd of 900 turned out to Hanaway Rink and watched Plymouth State handle Stonehill College, 5-1, in its home opener. With students, faculty, and members of the community in attendance, a convincing win like that can draw even more spectators.
“It’s truly a humbling experience every time we have a home game; the student population provides us with a ton of energy,” Russell noted. “This town and university has really embraced the arena, as well as our team, and we are incredibly thankful to be in the position we find ourselves in every day.”
Plymouth State controlled the game, and treated the sellout crowd by pouring on the offense from start to finish. The Panthers did not let up on the Skyhawks, tallying three third-period goals.
“We know that we can play with anyone,” Russell said. “We need to make sure that we’re taking care of our own business and executing our game plan. If we can do that, we know we’ll be putting ourselves in a good position by the end of the night.”
Turning heads in the win was junior forward Travis Stevens. The Montclair, Calif., native tallied three points in the win, and is looking to bounce back with a strong season.
“Travis hasn’t been healthy at the beginning of his first two years, and we finally have him one-hundred percent to start this season,” sated Russell. “He is a tremendous playmaker, and has speed and skill to go along with a good touch around the net.”
Stevens has totaled 26 points in two seasons for the Panthers and feels that not only is the program getting notice, so is his game.
In net, junior goaltender Tyler Ingerson started for Plymouth State over highly-regarded senior Jack Astedt. Ingerson did not falter in front of his home crowd, stopping all but one shot that came his way.
“Tyler has done a great job for us over the past two years, and he deserved the start,” Russell said. “I would expect him to play more this year than in the past as long as he continues to work hard.”
With only 10 games under his belt in two years, Ingerson knows that he too can have a chance this season to turn heads.
A lot can happen to a team after a winning season. For Plymouth State, which is looking to become a force in not only the MASCAC but also the NCAA, the team needs the support from their surroundings.
Nine hundred screaming Panther fans says a lot about where this program is headed.
Start looking for a different sandwich shop, guys.
Players of the Week
Rookie of the Week
Dalton Jay, Westfield State Owls, Forward. Jay is currently leading all Owls freshmen in points with four. The Hamilton, Ont., native had three helpers in an OT win over Stonehill.
Offensive Player of the Week
Vince Perreault, Westfield State Owls, Forward. The captain of the Owls led the charge with a hat trick in a 6-5 OT victory over Stonehill.
Defenseman of the Week
Curtis Martin, Worcester State Lancers, Junior. Leading all Lancers in points as a defenseman. Picked up a power-play assist in the loss to Western New England.
Goaltender of the Week
Tyler Ingerson, Plymouth State Panthers, Junior. Stopped all but one in the Panthers 5-1 opening night win over Stonehill.