Feb. 27, 2009
NORTH DARTMOUTH, MA-The University of Massachusetts Dartmouth's hockey team will begin their quest for an unprecedented fourth consecutive Eastern College Athletic Conference Northeast championship when they host Fitchburg State in an ECAC Northeast quarter-final playoff game Saturday afternoon. Game time is 4:30 p.m. at the Stephan Hetland Memorial Ice Arena in New Bedford, MA for UMass Dartmouth's 10th consecutive ECAC Northeast home playoff game.
The Corsairs and Falcons will be meeting for the third time this season. UMass Dartmouth won, 3-0, in a non-conference game at Hetland December 3rd, and the teams played a 2-2 tie in their league game at the Wallace Civic Center January 31st. "We're thrilled to be hosting another ECAC Tournament game," said UMass Dartmouth Head Coach John Rolli. "Hetland Arena and the local fans have been very good to us at playoff time."
The Corsairs will take a 16-7-2 record and the fourth seed into the tournament, while Fitchburg State is 12-8-5 and is seeded fifth. UMass Dartmouth is 8-3-0 at home this season, and had a four-game home winning streak when they lost to Nichols, 3-1 on February 18th. FSC has won four games in a row and five of their last six since their 2-2 tie against the Corsairs. UMass Dartmouth's schedule has been a tough one; five of their opponents, Babson, Bowdoin, Colby, Nichols and Utica have all been ranked among the top 15 teams nationally at some point in the season.
In keeping with their reputation for strong defense, the Corsairs have allowed the fewest goals in the conference, while Fitchburg ranks fifth in that category. UMD junior goaltender Jon Dryjowicz-Burek (Ludlow, MA/Springfield Jr. Falcons) leads the conference with a .935 save percentage, while FSC sophomore goalie Robert Vorse is right behind him at .930.
"Fitchburg is a very formidable opponent," said Rolli. "We were fortunate to get with a 2-2 tie in our game last month. They have an outstanding first line of Bob Kaloustian, Matt Arsenault and Andrew Hutton, and their goaltender, Robert Vorse, has been very good this season."
The Corsairs have missed a few key players due to injuries, but they expect to be back at nearly full strength Saturday. "The return of (senior forward) Chris Shore (West Haven, CT/Winchendon Academy), (junior defenseman) Paul Moran (Rockville Centre, NY/Boston Jr. Bulldogs) and (senior defenseman) Eric Quinlan (Saugus, MA/Avon Old Farms) will be an important factor for us," said Rolli. "Their presence will help." Moran hasn't played since the end of the first semester, Shore returns for the first time since January 24th, and Quinlan is back after missing the last three games.
The other playoff games this weekend find Nichols hosting Westfield State, Johnson & Wales visiting Curry, and Wentworth playing host to Becker. The four winners will advance to the semi-finals Wednesday evening, with the highest two remaining seeds hosting the games. The championship game is scheduled for Saturday, March 7th, with the champion earning the league's automatic berth in the NCAA Division III Championships.
UMASS DARTMOUTH HOCKEY