PLYMOUTH, NH – Sophomore defenseman Steve Ginand (Milford, MA/Northern Cyclones) scored to break a 1-1 tie at 12:39 of the third period and the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth hockey team held on to defeat top-seeded and host Plymouth State, 2-1, in the Massachusetts Collegiate Athletic Conference hockey championship game at Hanaway Rink Saturday evening.
With the victory, the Corsairs earned their 12th conference championship, their first MASCAC title, and their fourth trip to the NCAA Division III Championships and first since they made three consecutive trips to the NCAAs, the last during the 2007-08 season as a member of the Eastern College Athletic Conference Northeast. It marked the sixth time UMD had won a conference championship while playing on the road.
Junior forward Greg Girtatos (Tyngsboro, MA/Bishop Guertin HS) and freshman forward Swann Boisvert (Blainville, QC/Pembroke Lumber Kings-CHL) assisted on Ginand's goal, which came on the rebound of his own shot. The Corsairs controlled play after Ginand's goal, preventing the Panthers from removing junior goaltender Jack Astedt for an extra attacker.
The Panthers struck first after a scoreless first period. Phil Arnone gave Plymouth State a 1-0 lead at 7:35 of the second period when his centering pass hit traffic in front of the net and deflected in. Senior forward Nick Marquis (Londonderry, NH/Valley Jr. Warriors) tied the game 42 seconds later when he picked up a loose puck in front of the Panthers' goal and poked it home. Both goals were unassisted.
"That was a really good win," said UMass Dartmouth Head Coach John Rolli. "This was one of the biggest surprise championship wins that we've ever had. We felt that the longer the game went on and we stayed close, one play or a turnover could be the difference. We were outshot in the first period, but it was 0-0, and we traded goals quickly in the second period and we killed off the only power play of the game, and then Steve Ginand, our offensively gifted defenseman, gets the game winner. (Senior goaltender) Ryan Williams (Milton, ON/Huntsville Otters-OPJHL)\ was fantastic all night long, and I thought the best seven minutes of hockey we played all season was at the end of the game, and they couldn't even get their goaltender out. This was a real will to win effort."
The Panthers outshot the Corsairs, 38-22. Williams, who made 37 saves for UMD, was named the tournament's Most Outstanding Player. Astedt made 20 saves for PSU.
UMass Dartmouth improved to12-7-7 with the victory, while Plymouth State fell to 19-7-1 with the defeat. The Corsairs advanced to the NCAA Division III Championships with their victory. Pairings for the NCAAs will be announced Sunday evening, and the first round of the tournament will take place on Wednesday.
UMASS DARTMOUTH HOCKEY