AP NEWS

Fitchburg State Will Face Lancers in MASCAC Tournament

February 23, 2019
Fitchburg State s Christopher Vicario skates with the puck during a Feb. 16 game against Westfield State at the Wallace Civic Center in Fitchburg.

FITCHBURG -- The Fitchburg State University men’s hockey team has earned the fifth seed in the upcoming MASCAC postseason tournament.

The Falcons, who are defending champs after winning the tournament last year, will open play on Saturday at Worcester State at 5:40 p.m.

For the third straight year, Plymouth State will enter as the tournament’s No. 1 seed after the Panthers placed first in the regular season in MASCAC play.

No. 3 seed UMass Dartmouth and No. 4 seed Worcester State will serve as the hosts for the two quarterfinal games on Saturday. The Corsairs will host No. 6 seed Salem State at 6:30 p.m.

The winners of the quarterfinal games will advance to the MASCAC semifinals on Tuesday, where No. 1 seed Plymouth State and No. 2 seed Westfield State wait. The Worcester/Fitchburg winner will visit the Panthers at 7 p.m., while the UMD/Salem winner heads to Westfield at 7:35 p.m.

The semifinal winners will qualify for the MASCAC championship, to be held Saturday, March 2, with the higher seed serving as host. The winner of the championship game will earn the conference’s automatic qualifier into the NCAA tournament.

The Panthers earn the No. 1 seed with 26 points in the conference standings after a 12-4-2 conference season. They feature the highest scoring offense in the conference, led by Matt Volonnino, whose 17 goals rank second in the MASCAC.

Westfield went 11-6-1 in conference play to earn 23 points. The Owls have gotten strong play in goal this year from Thierry Messervier, who sports a 2.64 goals-against average and a .921 save percentage, which ranks second in the conference.

UMass Dartmouth will be looking to return to the MASCAC championship game after finishing as the tournament runner-up in 2018. The Corsairs went 10-6-2 in conference play this year for 22 points. UMD is led by junior forward Steven Leonard, whose 14 goals rank him third in the conference.

Mitchell Purdie was Worcester State’s leading score with nine goals and 24 assists for 33 points. His point total ranks fifth in the conference. The Lancers landed in the fourth spot in the conference thanks to a 9-7-2 MASCAC season and 20 points.

Reigning MASCAC tournament champion Fitchburg State also had 20 points in the standings with an identical 9-7-2 conference record. The Falcons feature two of the league leaders in Sascha Figi and Brian McGrath. Figi leads the MASCAC in goals (23) and points (43), while McGrath is the league’s top goaltender with a .940 save percentage and 2.18 goals-against average.

Despite the tie in the standings, the Lancers were awarded the higher seed based on head-to-head comparison. Worcester State won two of the three meetings against Fitchburg State to win the tiebreaker.

Salem State is the final entry into this year’s tournament. The Vikings went 7-11 in league play for 14 points in the standings. Their top scorer is Billy McGwin, who scored eight goals during the regular season.

In last year’s title game, Fitchburg State defeated UMass Dartmouth, 2-0. McGrath was stellar in the contest, making 45 saves in the shutout and being named the tournament MVP.