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vs. Albany Academy
|Date:||December 13, 2017|
Willits, Moore Lead Way as Knights Thrash Albany, Remain Unbeaten Through Five Games
Salisbury passed its final test in the run-up to the Flood-Marr Holiday Tournament with a 6-1 thrashing of Albany Academy on Wednesday afternoon. With the win, the Knights head to Boston sporting a perfect 5-0 record and looking to atone for a dismal showing at last December’s tournament, at which the team posted a 1-3 record to settle for 7th place in the eight-team event. “Yeah, the veterans on the team remember,” one of the coaching staff remarked, when asked, a few days ago. “They may not talk about it, but they remember.”
Brett Willits and Matt Holmes paced the team with 4 points apiece, each collecting 2 goals and 2 assists to lead nine Knights who contributed to the tally-sheet. A balanced attack has characterized the offensive output through the early weeks of the season, speaking to the Knights’ depth and multi-dimensionality. Of further note, all 6 goals against the Cadets came at even-strength.
Willits started the scoring parade with a goal just 26 seconds into the opening period, quieting a home crowd hoping to see their side pull off an upset. Holmes and Nick Capone assisted on the play. Halfway through the period, Willits returned the favor, setting up Holmes for his first score of the game, with Nick Hale also contributing an assist at 9:34. With 2:09 left before the first intermission, Kevin Wall made it 3-0, assisted by Noah Lee and Ilya Usau. Albany (3-4) mounted few offensive assaults, and netminder Brian McGrath and his defensive corps repelled each incursion.
Albany tightened its defense in the second frame. Nevertheless, at 7:53, Willits put the puck past Arthur Leibowitz for the only goal of the period and a 4-0 Knight lead. Capone and Lee both collected their second assist of the game on the play.
In the first 1:20 of the final period, the Knights incurred two penalties, and the Cadets capitalized, finally penetrating McGrath and giving their fans something to cheer about. Playing two men down, the Salisbury penalty killers could perhaps take some measure of solace in keeping Albany at bay for 47 seconds before surrendering the goal. At 7:22, Jorgen Krone would get that goal back for the Knights, converting a pass from Holmes to open a 5-1 lead. Clay Korpi also assisted on the play. Then with 3:21 left to play, Krone started the passing sequence that led to Salisbury’s final goal of the afternoon, with Willits collecting the pass and sending it along to Holmes for the deposit.
McGrath finished with 16 saves for the day, while his counterpart Leibowitz could hardly be faulted after facing a 42-shot barrage and turning aside 36.
Salisbury will face Kimball Union Academy on Friday morning (11:00) in opening round action of the Flood-Marr at the Milton Academy rink. KUA, the defending New England Champions, have raced out to a 6-1 record and a #3 ranking in the prep polls. The Wildcats will pose the strongest challenge faced in the season's early weeks by a Salisbury team currently holding down the top spot in the rankings. KUA's only loss came on December 2, when Vermont Academy (4-0), one of the most surprising teams in the early going, bettered them, 3-2. Group play will continue on Friday afternoon at 5:00, when the Knights re-take the ice against Milton, led by talented freshman Matt Beniers. Milton's 3-0 record has earned the Mustangs a #4 ranking in the current poll.