|Date:||December 4, 2017|
Willits’ 2 Goals Lead Knights over ’Stangs
Host Millbrook kept the game close for better than two periods of hockey on Monday afternoon before succumbing to Salisbury, 7-4. The win marked the third straight to open the season for the Knights. The Mustangs fell to 1-2.
After being shut down for the final two periods of Saturday’s Williston game, Salisbury wasted little time posting a goal against Millbrook. Just 39 seconds into the game, Matt Holmes put the puck past goalie Cam Fernandez, and Salisbury had a 1-0 lead. Nick Capone and Peter Diliberatore collected assists. Less than two minutes later, the Knights scored on the power play, the first of a whopping ten such man-advantage opportunities they would have in the game. (In other words, mathematicians will be quick to calculate, Millbrook played the equivalent of an entire period, and then some, a man down.) Chris Brown converted passes from Alex DiPaolo and Diliberatore to put Salisbury up 2-0. Back came Millbrook. The Mustangs scored at 6:44 to cut the lead in half. Another Salisbury power-play goal at 10:10 restored the two-goal lead, 3-1, as Kevin Wall found the net this time, assisted by Ilya Usau and Nick Hale.
Millbrook came out of the first intermission with renewed commitment and scored an early goal to narrow the score to 3-2 at 2:29 of the second period. Millbrook’s penalty killers denied the Knights on several power plays before Brett Willits scored an even-strength goal at 12:26, with Hale assisting, to boost the lead to 4-2. Just 13 seconds later, however, with the Knights back on the power play, Greg Koutsomitis scored a short-handed goal for Millbrook to make it 4-3. The prolific Koutsomitis figured in all four Mustang scores, finishing the day with a pair of goals and a pair of assists. Millbrook’s penalty penchant – and Koutsomitis was a prime perpetrator, with a dubious three-penalty hat-trick on the day – once again caught up with them as Diliberatore scored a power-play goal at 14:58 with assists from Willits and DiPaolo to make it a 5-3 game. Eighteen seconds later, Willits added his second of the game, assisted by Clay Korpi and Brendan Reynolds, to send the Knights into the second intermission with a commanding 6-3 advantage.
After the two teams had combined for nine goals over the first two frames, the third period was relatively subdued, with each team scoring once and only two penalties called. Millbrook kept their fans’ fleeting hopes alive with another goal early in the period, tightening the score to 6-4 just 2:15 into the frame. Wall and Diliberatore set up Usau for the final goal of the game at the 11:46 mark. The assist gave Diliberatore a hand in four of the Knights’ scores (1 goal, 3 assists).
Knight netminder Brian McGrath saw 28 shots and turned aside 24 of them. The Knights unleashed a 48-shot assault, chasing Fernandez after he had allowed six goals over the first two periods. The Millbrook starter stopped 36 shots before Greg Brassard took over in the third. Brassard stopped 5 of the 6 shots he faced. Fernandez’s early departure marked the second straight game from which an opposing goaltender made an early exit.
Hotchkiss comes to the Hiltop on Wednesday. Opening face-off is scheduled for 4:15.