NHIAA Boys' Hockey: Memorial wins battle of the best
Manchester Memorial goalie Joshua Jacob and Brady McNulty celebrate the team's 4-3 win over Salem at the IceCenter in Salem Saturday. (Mark Bolton/Union Leader)
The Crusaders scored three times in the final frame, including two by Brendan Sullivan, to claim a 4-3 win over the Blue Devils in a battle between the top two teams in Division I.
Sullivan tied things up 3-3 at 9:19 of the third period and then scored the game winner with 1:11 left to play. It was the junior forward's first game back since suffering a shoulder injury in a game against Hanover on Jan. 12.
"Before the game I asked him to pick up where he left off," Memorial coach Mark Putney said about his leading scorer. "He certainly did that."
Memorial is now 9-1 and Salem, which hadn't given up more than two goals in a game prior to Saturday, drops to 8-2-1.
The momentum swung in Salem's favor when Cody Soucy scored his second goal of the game midway through the third period to put the Blue Devils up 3-2.
But less than a minute later, Sullivan scored the first of his two goals to tie it up 3-3.
Back-and-forth action ensued and once again it was Sullivan who struck.
He raced into the Blue Devil zone on the left side and faked around a Salem defenseman to create a two on one. He then fired a shot over the glove of Blue Devil goalie Nick Phair (26 saves) for the winner.
"The defender pinched and I went around him real quick," Sullivan said. "Then I just took a shot and it went in."
It was Salem that took advantage of the Olympic sized sheet early on as they got out to a 2-0 lead. Shane Morin scored the only goal of the first period to make it a 1-0 game and then Soucy netted his first at 4:21 of the second to make it 2-0.
"They started out good," Salem coach Mark McGinn said about his squad. "Then we had a little lull. Neither team gave up."
Memorial finally got on the board when Jacob Boylan scored on the power play at 8:46 to make it 2-1, which is the way the second period ended.
The Crusaders started the third period on a power play but couldn't capitalize. It wasn't until shortly after it was killed off they struck.
Sullivan had the puck behind the Salem net and just before he took a hit was able to send a pass to a cutting Ethan Pollock. Pollock one-timed a shot and it was tied 2-2 at 2:13 of the third.
Soucy then gave his team the lead again with a nice move from the left wing to beat Memorial goalie Joshua Jacob (18 saves) at 8:34 just to have it tied up again by Sullivan at 9:19.
"We talked about how this was going to be a character test being down two goals," Putney said. "They were hungry in the second and they came out in the third and worked hard."