|Date:||November 28, 2018|
Salisbury Opens Season with Win over Taft
In the season opener Wednesday afternoon on Rudd Rink, Salisbury used a three-goal burst in the third period to break open a close game and pull away for a 5-2 win over Taft. Veteran defenseman Luke Krys scored twice to lead the attack, while Jared Levine withstood a number of flurries at close range en route to a 22-save performance in the net.
The Rhinos drew first blood, taking advantage of a Salisbury miscue in the defensive end to take a 1-0 lead 4:41 into the game. The scoring sequence began along the far boards by the Salisbury bench, where a defender gave up the puck to a Taft forechecker. Four touches later, Taft’s Finn Walker put a stick on a rebound just outside the goalie box and behind netminder Jared Levine and poked it home.
The visitors’ celebration was short-lived, however, as the Knights answered back almost immediately. Gaining control of the puck on the ensuing face-off, Salisbury sped into the attacking end and sent Rhino goalie Thomas McAleer to the ice for an initial save. While McAleer was down, an alert Bayard Hall collected the loose puck and slammed it into the opening to tie the game at one-all just 20 seconds after the Taft goal. Jake Quillan and Matt Coronato both picked up assists.
The line of Chris Henn, Dean Bauchiero, and Brendan Kennedy had some of the strongest shifts of the opening frame and produced some of Salisbury’s best scoring chances but could not solve McAleer, who finished with 30 saves. With just over 20 seconds left in the period, Ilya Usau found daylight from a sharp angle at the bottom of the faceoff circle on the left side of the goal but could not get the puck through the narrow opening.
The Knights opened the second period with several strong shifts, including a rush by the line of Lucas Mercuri, Matthew DeBoer, and Mike Cameron at the 14:40 mark that McAleer thwarted. Usau, Michael Fairfax, and Nick Capone also created some good chances around the 10:30 mark. Henn had an opportunity from the low slot at 9:40 that deflected just wide.
Over the next few minutes, Taft had its best chances of the middle frame. At 8:10, a centering pass just missed connecting in front of the Salisbury net. 40 second later, a Rhino shot caromed down off the crossbar, sparking a momentary celebration, but no goal was signaled and play continued. Moments later, the puck did end up in the Salisbury net, prompting another Taft celebration, but the referee waved off the goal. The Rhinos continued to press, and at 6:12 a breakaway tested Levine, who made one of his best saves of the afternoon.
At 5:31, Salisbury went on the power-play, their second of the game, and showed good puck movement in the Taft end. At 4:30, Quillan found Krys open at the blue line, with a direct line to the net. Krys wasted little time wristing the puck toward the goal and past McAleer for the Knights’ first lead of the game, 2-1. Mercuri also received an assist on the play. The Knights came close at 3:15 with a two-on-one break that just missed at the finish.
With 13 seconds left in period two, a Taft player went to the penalty box, and the man-advantage for Salisbury continued into the third period. Just 38 seconds into the final frame, Krys scored his second power-play goal to give the Knights a two-goal lead. (The two goals were, incidentally, two more than Krys scored in 28 games last season!) Levine had to scurry around the front of his net at 12:15, as Taft threatened again, but the agile senior proved quicker to the puck than the Rhino attackers.
The enthusiastic Rudd Rink faithful were on their feet throughout the game, and their support reached a crescendo at 11:00, when Quillan beat McAleer for a 4-1 lead. Cole Vallese earned an assist on the play. Taft continue to apply pressure with occasional spurts, Levine was tested at 8:35 by a swarm of Rhinos in front of the net, pounding away at the loose puck but to no avail. Then, right after a Taft time-out, the Knights struck again. Moving quickly through the slot, Coronato took a pass from Vallese and buried it in the open net at McAleer’s right to up the score to 5-1. Ryan Colwell would add a goal for Taft with 3:24 left, but the verdict was already sealed.