The top two seeds met in the championship game of the NEPSAC Martin/Earl Large School Tournament and the game was as close as anticipated, with #1 seed Taft earning the title with a 3-2 overtime win over #2 Salisbury.
The teams split their two games during the regular season, and believe it or not, each team won a 3-2 overtime game, just like Sunday’s final score.
The hero on Sunday for Taft was defenseman Alex Kenerson who netted the title-clinching goal 8:05 into extra time.
See Kenerson’s game-winner here:
This game was as even as the first two games these teams played.
The Rhinos struck first, just 3:22 into the contest when Archer Brown put one home, assisted by junior Shane Mettler. The Crimson Knights would tie it up later in the period on a goal by Michael Strapp. Rapolas Marcinkevicius was credited with the assist.
It stayed 1-1 until the third period. Taft went out ahead 2-1 at the 7:10 mark on an unasssited marker by Jackson Holl.
Salisbury responded at 10:57 to tie it at 2-2. Jared Rotham got it, with assists going to Sam Hall and Marcinkevisius.
There would be no more scoring until Kenerson’s game-winner. Assisting on tally for Taft were Leyland Johnson and JJ Lemieux. Salisbury netminder Matt Alberti made a few stops during a wild flurry in front, but the puck made its way back to Kenerson at the top of the circle and he was able to roof a wrister through the maze.
To reach the final, Taft defeated Kent 5-3 in the quarterfinal, and Tabor 4-1 in a semifinal contest. The Rhinos finished 20-8-0 overall.
Salisbury, which won the Elite 8 championship last year, ended 16-7-5 after taking playoff wins over Loomis Chaffee (4-3 in OT) and Dexter Southfield (3-1).