FITCHBURG, Mass. – The sixth-seeded University of Massachusetts Dartmouth men's ice hockey team captured a 5-4 win despite a late game surge by third-seeded Fitchburg State University in the opening round of the Massachusetts Collegiate Athletic Conference at the Wallace Civic Center on Saturday afternoon.
The Corsairs will take on second-seeded Salem State in the semifinal round at 7 pm on Tuesday, Mar. 3. The Falcons concluded their season with an overall record of 10-13-3.
UMass Dartmouth (8-15-3) built up a 4-0 lead over the first 41 minutes and 21 seconds of play. The Corsairs put the first score on the board only 28 seconds into the contest when junior Mike Restuccia (Malden, Mass.) wristed a shot into the lower left corner of the net off a feed from classmates Billy Boudreau (Newburyport, Mass.) and Brandon Gilmore (Quincy, Mass.). A few minutes later, Gilmore was on the receiving end of a pass from freshman Casey Shea (Woburn, Mass.) that gave the visitors a two goal advantage, which they would take into the break.
At the 16 minute, 26 second mark in the second, freshman Mike Palmer (North Grafton, Mass.) set up classmate Jaret Babych (North Vancouver, B.C.) for the lone score of the period. To start the third, sophomore Mike Kelly (Stoneham, Mass.) capped the UMass Dartmouth run when he found the back of the net with 18 minutes and 39 seconds remaining in regulation.
Trailing by four goals, the Falcons unleashed a trio of scores to bring the home team within one. Sophomore Jon Johannesson (Red Lake, Ont.) lit up the lamp and sparked the charge with 15 minutes left in the contest. Over the next two minutes and seven seconds, senior Brett Nussbaum (Boca Raton, Fla.) capitalized on a power-play opportunity and junior Stephen Carlette (Cheshire, Conn.) registered an unassisted strike for the home team.
With Fitchburg State desperately seeking to tie the contest at four-all, Babych delivered his second goal of the game to put two goals between the teams at the 12 minute, 19 seconds mark. Falcon Ryan Bedard (Derry Line, Vt.) found the back of the net for the host's fourth score of the period to bring them within one with six minutes remaining. Despite holding an advantage in shots during the final stanza (18-6), Fitchburg State was unable to produce an equalizer in the final minutes.
In net, sophomore JJ Solloway (Derry, N.H.) stopped 40 shots and earned his first career playoff win. The Falcons split time between Ryan Wysocki (Grand Rapids, Mich.) and Dan Finn (Fitchburg, Mas.). Wysocki turned away 23 attempts in 42 minutes, while Finn recorded four saves in reserve.
Photo courtesy of Ed Pepin.