Senior forward Mike Owens
NEW BEDFORD, MA-Senior forward Mike Owens (South Boston, MA/Boston Jr. Bulldogs-AtJHL) scored three goals and junior goaltender Ryan Williams (Milton, ON/ Huntsville Otters-OPJHL) made 34 saves to lead the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth's hockey team to a 4-2 victory over visiting Westfield State, in their Massachusetts Collegiate Athletic Conference quarter-final playoff game at the Stephan Hetland Memorial Ice Arena Saturday.
Owens scored the Corsairs' final three goals of the game, including an empty-netter that clinched the decision with 16 seconds remaining.
Freshman forward Shaun Walters (Plymouth, MI/Rochester Ice hawks-MNJHL) gave UMass Dartmouth an early lead, flipping the rebound of a shot by junior forward Greg Girtatos (Tyngsboro, MA/Bishop Guertin HS) past WSU sophomore goaltender Eddie Davey (Orangeville, ON/Abitibi Eskimos) just 48 seconds after the opening faceoff. Owens scored the next two goals for the Corsairs, scoring from point-blank range after senior forward Rob Dudley (Douglas, MA/Middlesex School) won an offensive zone face-off with 30 seconds left in the second period. He made it 3-0 when he poked the puck past Davey from a scramble in front of the net at8:17 of the third period.
The Owls rallied, getting on the board when sophomore defenseman Billy Miller's (Morgan Hill, CA/Alexandria Blizzard) shot from the point was deflected first by junior forward Jason Nelson (Raleigh, NC/Springfield Jr. Falcons), and then by freshman forward Steve Evans (Kingston, ON/Wellington Dukes) for a power play goal at 9:45. Freshman forward Frank Zuccaro (Newmarket, ON/Orangeville Flyers) deflected home junior defenseman Jeff Callahan's (Londonderry, NH/Valley Jr. Warriors) shot at 11:21 to cut UMD's advantage to 3-2. But the Corsairs weathered the storm, with Williams making a couple of clutch saves before Owens scored into the empty net at 19:44.
"Goals scored at the end of periods and at the start of periods are usually significant, and that was the case tonight," said UMass Dartmouth Head Coach John Rolli. "We played with a lot of energy, in a game in which both teams had everything on the line. Mike Owens had a great game and showed why he is one of the top players in our league. All in all, it was a good effort. Now, we have to travel Tuesday night to take on a very talented Salem State team."
UMass Dartmouth improved to 16-8-2 with the victory, while Westfield State fell to 7-14-5 with the defeat. UMass Dartmouth advanced to the semi-finals and will visit second-seeded Salem State Tuesday night. The game was the final action of the season for Westfield State.