WESTFIELD, Mass. – The Westfield State University hockey team's comeback efforts came up just short, as Salem State University defeated Westfield State 5-2 in the MASCAC semifinal held at Amelia Park on Tuesday night.
The Vikings led 3-0 early in the third before the Owls stormed back with two quick goals only 26 seconds apart to knock the Salem lead down to one. But all the Westfield State attack efforts after that would be stopped by junior goaltender Sean Cleary (Barnstable, Mass.), who made 32 saves on the night.
With the win, Salem will move on to face Plymouth State University on Saturday for the MASCAC title in Plymouth. A start time will be announced by the conference in the next few days.
After a scoreless first period, it appeared as though Westfield State would jump on the board early in the second on a rebound goal from Gerard Colpoys (Scituate, Mass.), but the goal was disallowed due to a goaltender interference call keeping the game knotted at 0-0.
A few moments later, senior Jimmy Currier (Middleton, Mass.) would send a pass across the slot to a wide-open Brandon Wolfe (Granger, Ind.), who would fire it past a diving Thierry Messervier (Montreal, Quebec) to give the Vikings a 1-0 lead.
Only 1:24 later, Captain Alexsi Mustaniemi (Vihti, Finland) sent a rocket from the point that handcuffed Messervier, leading to a trickling puck in front of a wide open net that Trevor Mallet (York, Maine) would slam home for the 2-0 advantage.
Salem would pick up another 2-on-1 goal from Mallet to extend the Viking lead to 3-0, but the Owls would fire back with a couple goals of their own. Josh Boulos (Burlington, Mass.) sent a shot that found its way through traffic and into the back of the net and then Justin Collins (Wilmington, Mass.) would pot one moments later to bring Westfield back in the game at 3-2.
The Vikings would eventually have the final say, tacking on two empty net goals both from sophomore Joe Smith (Holbrook, Mass.) to put the Owls away for good.
Westfield State finishes the year with a 14-9-3 record, having tied the program record for wins since the hockey team was reinstated in 2008 and earning the number two seed in the tournament for the first time ever.
As for Salem, they will move on to play in their fifth MASCAC championship game in the last six years, seeking their fifth title since the league was reinstated.