Friday night’s showdown between NEPSAC hockey rivals was a hard-fought, physical matchup that featured intense play and numerous penalties throughout.
Capitalizing on its opportunities in the second period, especially on the power-play, Salisbury ran its record to 9-1-1 by skating to a tough 4-2 win over Brunswick, before a packed house at Hartong Rink.
Salisbury entered the much-anticipated matchup ranked third in the NEPSAC, while the Bruins were No. 8. The visiting Crimson Knights took a 1-0 lead at the 14:17 mark of the first period. Senior forward Matthew DeBoer snapped in a one-timer near the crease, giving Salisbury a 1-0 edge.
It didn’t take the Bruins long to respond. Eight seconds, in fact. Crashing the net, freshman forward Beanie Richter tallied off a pass from sophomore forward Andon Cerbone with 14:08 left in the opening period. Junior forward Matthew McGroarty also assisted on the equalizer, which came after the Bruins controlled the puck off a face-off at center ice.
The Crimson Knights regained the lead at 2-1 when junior forward Cole Eichler snuck a shot by Brunswick junior netminder Alexander Rohlf off a rebound from close in with 12:10 showing on the clock in the second period. The visitors had opportunities to increase their advantage, but Rohlf kept it a one-goal game in the first period, turning away more than 10 shots, several of which came with Salisbury on a power-play.
Trailing 2-1, the Bruins again answered back.
Senior forward/captain Henry Foster’s power-play goal tied the score at 2-2 for the home team, much to the delight of the big crowd at Hartong Rink, with 3:42 to go in the first period. Jakub Teply and McGroarty each assisted on the tally.
The decisive second period keyed the visitors. Senior forward Lucas Mercuri scored off a snap shot from the right face-off circle at the 15:22 mark of the third period. On a 5-on-3 power play, following a pair of Bruins penalties, one of which was a five-minute major, the Crimson Knights took a two-goal edge on Dean Bauchiero’s tally with 4:47 remaining in the second stanza.
“It was really a tale of two games — with the first and third periods played mostly at even strength and very competitively between two good hockey teams,” Bruins coach Mike Kennedy said. “There were great chances both ways and the fans were treated to an outstanding brand of hockey. It was fast-paced and physical with a ton of skill.”
“It’s too bad things went the way they did penalty wise in the second — but Salisbury showed why they’re a top team and they capitalized on their chances. We left a few on the table that may have turned the game in our favor.
All in all, it was a hard-nosed hockey game on both sides of the puck and our team will be better for it as we head into the second half of the season.”
Rohlf played well in goal for the Bruins, who received solid play defensively throughout, led by seniors Harry Tavlarios and Jack Griffin. Brunswick, which sports a record of 11-4-1, following the loss, which snapped their five-game winning streak, hosts Kents Hill School on Friday at 7 p.m.