Slatky, Trinity skaters ice Salem
SALEM - The way the Trinity High School hockey team has been playing recently one goal seems like enough for it to win most games.
The Pioneers got two in the first period and added two more in the final 37 seconds to pull off a 4-0 win over Salem in a battle of Division I contenders at the Icenter on Wednesday.
"Salem is a very good team," Trinity coach Mike Connell said. "We're happy with the win."
It was the second loss in as many days for the Blue Devils, who were once No. 1 in the league and now stand at 9-5-1. Trinity has a nine-game unbeaten streak and improved to 11-3-1.
The combination of Drew Merrick and Kyle Valliere provided enough offense for the Pioneers and Ryan Slatky stopped all 27 shots he faced to pick up the shutout.
Valliere finished with two goals and an assist, Merrick had a goal and an assist and Mitch Myers had the other goal, an empty-netter with 37 seconds left.
Valliere added another tally after that with just four seconds left when he beat Salem goalie Nick Phair with a wrist shot from the point.
"They played well and Kyle played well defensively," Connell said. "The other lines, hopefully they'll start putting the puck in the net because we need a little more offense."
The banged up Blue Devils were coming off an overtime loss to Manchester Central and missing a few players, most notably Jake Pappalardo, who is out for the season with an arm injury.
Phair finished with 26 saves, but Salem just couldn't generate the offense it needed to beat Slatky and the stingy Trinity defense.
"It was a terrible first period," Salem coach Mark McGinn said. "Two-nothing right there and that was pretty much it until the end. We've come out like that a lot this year and it really hasn't killed us. Today it hurt."
Merrick got the scoring started when he scored to make it 1-0 with 9:13 left in the first, and then Valliere made it 2-0 with 4:42 remaining. The linemates assisted on each other's goal.
The Blue Devils found their legs in the second period and played the Pioneers more evenly. After a scoreless second, it was the same for most of the third until the final minute.
McGinn called a timeout with 48 seconds left in regulation and pulled Phair to give him six skaters. Just seconds later Myers picked off the puck at his own blue line and skated in alone for the empty-net goal.
Valliere's final tally came off a faceoff in the Salem zone that was won back to him for the shot.
"I think we were a little fortunate to catch these guys a little bit on the tired side," Connell said. "I think we came out real fast, but we didn't come out in the second period like I had hoped and we were fortunate we were still up 2-0 going into the third."