Salem skaters stay undefeated with win over Trinity
SALEM — Trinity put up a fight, but in the end, Salem remained undefeated.
The Blue Devils improved to 5-0-0 on the season with a 3-2 boys’ Division I hockey win over Trinity at ICEnter on Wednesday.
“We’re still winning,” said Salem head coach Mark McGinn. “The good thing is, we’re not executing a full game and we’re still coming out with some wins, although they are tight. I think with more practice we’ll get better and hopefully continue.”
The Pioneers (3-2-0) made things interesting by scoring a late goal to cut the Salem lead to one with 1:31 remaining.
With goalie Curtis Wirbal heading off the ice for an extra attacker, Trinity sophomore Drew Merrick skated in on the left wing and made a nice backhand pass to senior Mitch Myers trailing in the slot. Myers finished with a one-timer to beat Sam MacDonald.
Wirbal stayed on the bench and Trinity threatened over the final 91 seconds, sustaining pressure but ultimately coming up short as Salem held on for the win.
“It was good to see after how we started that the guys finally started feeling it a little bit,” Trinity head coach Mike Connell said. “We got some good pressure down there. It just didn’t bounce our way. The guys played hard at the end, which is a good learning step for us.”
McGinn wasn’t happy about his players trying for the empty net and missing, causing whistles for icing that led to faceoffs in the Salem end.
“They pulled the goalie and our guys sent it down for an icing and that just adds pressure. It’s kind of risk and reward. It’s not a risk I wanted to take,” McGinn said. “I thought in the third period we had better opportunities but they caught us with one and we weathered the storm at the end.”
Salem controlled the first period of play, building a 2-0 lead.
Chris Lemay got the Blue Devils started with a goal at 8:17. Kyle Svenson skated up the right side alone and fired a shot on net that Wirbal turned aside, but the rebound came to Lemay in the slot for the put-back.
Jake Burns made it 2-0 at 9:13 with a slap shot from the left point that banged off the bar and into the net after a faceoff win from Jared Carlson.
As the second period drew to a close, the Pioneers began to heat up and that momentum carried into the early stages of the second stanza when Trinity got on the board.
Myers tallied at 1:07 for the Pioneers, cutting across the front of the crease for a shot that was stopped by MacDonald. Myers collected the rebound and roofed the puck from the right post to make it 2-1.
“It was a good first and not-so-good second. They actually took it to us in the second. They’re a good team,” McGinn said. “In the third I think we had the edge again. We didn’t use our speed like we should. We’re a pretty fast team and the goals we scored were with speed and rebounds and when we don’t skate, we’re average.”
Salem pulled ahead 3-1 with a goal from Matthew Hayes at 5:28 of the third period. Alex Ring’s shot from the right point was tipped in front by Hayes for the eventual game-winner.
From there, the Blue Devils clamped down and MacDonald was called on to make only two saves in the final period, finishing with 20 stops overall to match Wirbal’s total.
“We didn’t get too many chances all night,” Connell said. “There were a couple that were OK, but I don’t think any were significant. That’s a credit to their defense and their system. They shut us down.”