It wasn’t just that top-seeded Plymouth State was back in the MASCAC championship game for the seventh time in eight years on Saturday, knowing that only the winner would get a bid to the 12-team NCAA tournament.
No, it was also that across the ice was old nemesis Salem State, a team that finished sixth of seven teams in the standings but won two playoff games on the road to reach the final for the eighth time in nine years under longtime coach Bill O’Neill (Lynn, Mass.). Twice in the last four years, the Vikings has personally denied Plymouth’s bid for titles.
This time, the Panthers took the final step. In front of a full house at Hanaway Rink, Evan Morelli (Reading, Mass.) recorded 17 saves -- his program-record ninth career shutout -- and his team skated past Salem, 3-0, to win the MASCAC tournament for the first time since 2015.“I'm so incredibly happy for the senior class to finally get one,” said Plymouth State coach Craig Russell (Northfield, Vt.).