Boys Prep Elite Tournament: Salisbury survives in OT for back-to-back crowns

Gary Demopoulos
Gary Demopouloshttp://www.hnibnews.com
Gary Demopoulos has been covering prep school hockey for the HNIB News for over 30 years, and has been the editor of the HNIB News since 2005. A former sportswriter and news editor at the Woburn (MA) Daily Times Chronicle, he has been the HNIB News' key reporter for Mens Prep School hockey since 1988, as well as womens hockey, both at the prep school and high school levels. for almost 20 years. Gary also helps organize and oversee HNIB's many summer tournaments and festivals for scholastic players.

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SALISBURY SCHOOL enjoys its second straight Elite Tournament title with the championship trophy.
SALISBURY SCHOOL enjoys its second straight Elite Tournament title with the championship trophy.

After going through an uncharacteristic 0-1-3 stretch back in January, which included a blowout loss to Kent, Salisbury picked up a 3-2 overtime win over the Gunnery, a much-needed win.

 

That win would be the first of 15 straight victories for Salisbury, a streak that culminated Sunday in the school’s second straight New England Prep Elite School championship. The result in the title game? Same as the start of the streak, a 3-2 overtime verdict of the same Gunnery team.

 

Evan Smith was the man of the hour for the Crimson Knights banging home a feed from Derek Barach 15:19 into the first overtime session.

 

GUNNERY's Ryan Dmowski battles Salisbury's Adam Baughman for the puck in Elite Tournament final won by Salisbury, 3-2 in OT
GUNNERY’s Ryan Dmowski battles Salisbury’s Adam Baughman for the puck in Elite Tournament final won by Salisbury, 3-2 in OT

Salisbury had led, 2-0, late in the third period, only to see the Highlanders rally and send the game to overtime with two late goals.

 

“I am extremely thrilled and proud of our kids,” said Salisbury coach Andrew Will, who won his third New England crown. “It is also an exciting accomplishment for our program and our school. In my mind, it really speaks to the work ethic, commitment and determination of the guys we have had in the locker room.”

[box type=”shadow” align=”aligncenter”]More photos from this game…[/box]

A turning point in the season, if one can be had in a 24-1-4 campaign, was that January loss to Kent, a 6-2 setback on January 18th.

 

“We had been having some success up to that point having won the Flood Marr Tournament but we weren’t really playing with the consistency or urgency we were capable of. That lopsided loss made us as a group stand up and recognize that we weren’t as good a team as we thought we were.”

 

After a scoreless first period, Salisbury notched a pair of power play goals in the second stanza, both scored by Kale Kane.

 

The first one came at the 4:12 juncture when Kane dove to bat home the rebound of a Barach shot. The lead doubled when Kane one-timed a bullet past Gunnery goalie Matthew Schneider off a pass from Matthew Muzyka.

 

Gunnery, on a torrid stretch of their own (16-2-1 in their final 19; both losses to Salisbury), refused to buckle under and fought back to tie the score. Defenseman Alex Mehr got the first one on the power play at 12:31, and Princeton-bound senior Joey Fallon evened things up with 2:42 to go.

SALISBURY CAPTAINS Mitchell Smith, Evan Smith and Will Toffey accept Elite Tournament championship hardward
SALISBURY CAPTAINS Evan Smith, Mitchell Smith and Will Toffey accept Elite Tournament championship hardward

 

“There’s no doubt that Gunnery’s second goal temporarily took the wind our of our sails,” Will said. “That being said, our guys quickly regained their focus and composure on the bench, and got back to playing our game. Our guys have been terrific at that all season long. The overtime period was certainly intense but our guys were focused on the task at hand. This was our eighth overtime game of the season (including the double OT win in the quarterfinal round over Cushing) so our guys had a lot of confidence in themselves and in what we were trying to do.”

 

On the game-winner, the play actually started in the Salisbury zone, after a couple of scoring opportunities for the Highlanders. The puck was sent around the boards, where it was collected by Barach, who chipped it ahead to Smith. Barach and Mitchell Smith made it a 3-on-2. Evan Smith fed Barach, who quickly slid it back and Evan Smith beat Schneider with a one-timer to give Salisbury the title.

 

“It was definitely fitting that those three guys would be involved in the winning goal,” Will said.

 

[box type=”shadow” align=”aligncenter”]More photos from this game…[/box]

 

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