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March 5, 2014

Two third period goals lead Salem State hockey into MASCAC championship game

SALEM — They’re back in the conference title game — and hoping to reach the big dance for the first time in two decades.

A pair of third period goals from freshman Brandon Platt and defenseman Gabriel Cromp enabled the Salem State hockey team to knock off Framingham State, 3-1, before a large crowd at the Rockett Arena last night.

“We played well defensively and got stronger at the end,” said Salem State head coach Billy O’Neill. “Their goalie was very good; he didn’t give up any rebounds or second chances and they played well (defensively) in front of him. But our team had some power play chances and were finally able to capitalize.”

Platt snapped a 1-1 tie with 8:57 left in regulation, scoring with assists from Mark Macdonald and Ian Canty. Cromp scored his second goal of the night six minutes later with his team on a 5-on-3 power play situation, with his blast from the point.

Salem State (15-9-2) will host Plymouth State, a 3-2 winner last night over Westfield State (14-10-2), for the MASCAC championship Saturday back at the Rockett Arena (2 p.m.). The winner gets an automatic berth into the NCAA Division 3 hockey tournament, which Salem State hasn’t played in since the 1994-95 season.

“We beat them twice and tied them once, so I expected another close game,” said O’Neill. “That’s the way it is in this league; you have to play 60 minutes. You need to get good goaltending, special teams ... it’s all so important in games like this. And you have to stay out of the penalty box; you can’t score from there.”

This will mark the Vikings’ fourth trip to the league title game in the five years it has existed. Their last MASCAC crown came in 2010. Salem State fell to Plymouth State in the MASCAC final in both 2011 and 2012, with each setback coming in overtime.

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