Panthers, Corsairs battle for MASCAC title

Travis Stevens (Plymouth State - 18), Tim Visich (Plymouth State - 8) - The visiting Plymouth State University Panthers defeated the Salem State University Vikings 3-2 on Thursday, December 1, 2011, at Rockett Arena in Salem, Massachusetts. (Melissa Wade)

Here we are.  The championship.  What every practice, morning workout, extra on-ice skills session, special teams drill…is all about.

The MASCAC will crown its champion on Saturday, March 2, as the defending conference champion, the Plymouth State Panthers, takes on the Massachusetts-Dartmouth Corsairs.

In a battle of no. 1 versus no. 2, the Panthers look to defend their crown in front of their hometown crowd, while the Corsairs look to capture their first league title since they won three in a row from 2006-08, back when they were members of the EACAC Northeast.

Plymouth State and Mass.-Dartmouth each had a bye to the semifinal, because both sat in the top two spots in the standings.  The Panthers finished with a 14-3-1 record in the MASCAC, while the Corsairs sat in second with and 9-3-6 mark.

The Panthers had no problem with the Fitchburg State Falcons, which ended the storybook season for the Westfield State Owls, 5-4, in the quarterfinals. Plymouth State put up seven goals against the Falcons, while senior forward Kyle Greco completed a four-point night to lead the Panthers’ offense.

For Mass.-Dartmouth, the road to the championship wasn’t as convincing as its opponent, but rather held true to the phrase of “a flare for the dramatic.”

The Corsairs battled the Salem Sate Vikings in the other semifinal game, and the crowd on hand to watch did not go home disappointed. Trailing 4-1 heading into the third period, Mass.-Dartmouth mounted a comeback and eventually tied the game with less than four minutes to go. After two scoreless overtime periods, junior defenseman Nate Dupere lit the lamp for the Corsairs 1:55 in and ended the marathon game.

With one team coming off an amazing game, one for the ages in matter of fact, and the other recovering home after a convincing win, this championship game as the makings to be another classic like last year’s.

No. 1 Plymouth State Panthers vs. No. 2 Massachusetts-Dartmouth Corsairs
2012-13 MASCAC Championship Game
Saturday, March 2 at 6:00 pm.
Hanaway Rink, Plymouth State

Why Plymouth State will win: The Panthers did not have any sign of slowing down this entire season. At one point during the campaign, they won seven games in a row, and never lost more than two games straight. Offensively, Plymouth State is led by seniors Kyle Greco and Alex Cottle, while sophomore defenseman Zach Sarig anchors the blue line. In net, Jack Astedt, who was just named to his third All-Conference selection, looks to close out a magical career at Plymouth State.

If the Panthers can get out to an early lead, keep the Corsairs off the board, and control the pace, Plymouth State will win its second straight MASCAC title.

Why Mass.-Dartmouth will win: The Corsairs are coming off two games in one, yet came out on top in the semifinal game, defeating Salem State. The good thing about it though is that they have a full week to recover and regroup before playing in the title game. This season, the Corsairs went 0-2-1, against the Panthers, tying them, 4-4, in the regular season finale. Mass.-Dartmouth is going to rely heavy on senior netminder Ryan Williams, who has a 93.3 save percentage in his last two games. Up front, Dave McDonald and Phil Bronner, two seniors, must lead by example in this one and set the pace for the Corsairs’ offense.

In that 4-4 tie, Mass.-Dartmouth stormed back to tie it as well; however, it cannot afford to do that in this one. The Corsairs have to limit the Panthers’ offense and stay out of the box. If Williams can keep it close, or even better hold a lead, and if the offense capitalizes on its chances, we will have a new champ in the MASCAC.

In my final MASCAC prediction: Plymouth State 4-2