Bruins Fall in OT to Salisbury
By Rob Adams
Salisbury senior Chris Brown scored the game-winner as the Crimson Knights beat the Brunswick Bruins 3-2 in overtime on Monday at the Hartong Rink.
Brown positioned himself close to the net of Brunswick netminder Dan Dachille, and pushed the puck home to pick up the win.
Salisbury (16-0-1) is the top-ranked team in the USHR.com poll.
“I am proud of the boys and the way they battled,” Bruins head coach Ron VanBelle said.
Brunswick (10-9-3, 9-7-3 NEPSIHA) opened the scoring at the 5:52 mark of the first period, as junior forward Tom Richter found a rebound and poked it home for his third goal of the year. Junior defenseman Henry Hill picked up the assist. The goal was Richter’s third of the season.
The Knights responded 43 seconds later, as senior co-captain Nick Hale scored to tie the game up.
The scoreboard was an indication of how evenly-matched the game was, although Brunswick would outshoot Salisbury 45-37 for the game.
A Salisbury penalty early in the second period proved fortuitous for the Bruins, and they took advantage of the opportunity. Senior co-captain Ryan Carmichael tapped his stick on the ice just in side the blue line. Fellow co-captain Christian LeSeuer fed the puck to the defenseman, and he blasted it through traffic in the slot. Freshman PJ Neal deflected it past goalie Bryan McGrath for a 2-1 lead.
The goal – the second for Neal – came at 2:58 of the second period.
Later in the period, the Knights had a power play opportunity of their own. Brown setup in the left faceoff circle and fed the puck towards the net. Sophomore forward Nick Capone poked it past Dachille to tie the game.
A scoreless third period featured the continued strong play on both sides, with each goaltender facing an array of shots. Dachille stopped 41 shots, while McGrath, a post-grad, made 34 saves.
The Hartong Rink was buzzing as the teams lined up for the extra session. Crisp passing by the Knights set up the game-winner, and Brown ended the day at the 1:29 mark.
“We played three very good periods of hockey and that game could have went either way,” VanBelle said. Losing in OT to the number one ranked team in New England is disappointing, but obviously proves to the boys they can play with anybody in this league. I hope this sets us up to have a successful February.”
Over the weekend, the Bruins had a quality win at home, defeating Williston-Northampton 4-3. The Wildcats were ranked tenth by USHR.com in the most recent poll.
That game –in which Brunswick twice rebounded from two-goal deficits – was emblematic of the Bruins’ Jeckyll and Hyde season.
“It has been a bit frustrating, as we have eight league losses and five of them have been by one goal and we are 1-3-3 in games that have gone to OT,” VanBelle said. So our record of 9-8-3 is not indicative of how well we are playing.”
The Bruins travel to Albany Academy on Friday, then are off until Feb. 8, which they go to Lawrenceville. The Bruins will come back to the Hartong Rink on Feb 9 for a showdown with another ranked team in Gunnery, followed by a third game in three days, on the road at Berkshire.
“I am pleased with the effort I am getting from the boys every day and I am happy with how the team is playing at this point in the season,” VanBelle said. “Because our strength of schedule is so strong, we are currently in the “Large School” Playoffs and if we have a good February we should earn a 4th straight postseason bid.”