|Date:||December 3, 2018|
Millbrook Humbles Salisbury
Advance notices for the Millbrook hockey team described this Mustang edition as a stronger group than the school usually puts on the ice. Turns out that may have been an understatement. The devastation left behind by the relentless, resilient, and sharp-shooting Mustangs on Monday evening reached a scale not seen on Rudd Rink ice in a long, long time: an 8-5 dismantling of the top-ranked Crimson Knights that will send ripples across the prep hockey world.
And if Millbrook had been more disciplined, not taken so many cheap penalties? Well, put it this way: Salisbury did not score a single even-strength goal in the game. That’s right. All five Salisbury goals came with a man-advantage. Millbrook’s ledger showed a well-rounded 5 even-strength goals, 2 power-play scores, and an empty-netter at the close.
There’s more. Salisbury is a team that rolls out four lines and wears opponents down. That did not happen Monday night, as Millbrook outscored the Knights, 4-1, in the third period. In fact, after being held scoreless in the opening frame, the Mustangs posted back-to-back four-goal periods, chasing starting goalie Jared Levine after tying the score, 5-5, two minutes into the finale. In all, eleven different Millbrook players posted points in a startling display of depth against a Salisbury team that boasts 12 players committed to Division I college hockey programs.
It is not often that a goalkeeper gives up 5 goals and earns “first-star-of-the-game,” but Millbrook’s Cam Fernandez arguably earned that honor today, stopping 37 shots. Fernandez committed so many acts of thievery that it is remarkable he was not arrested upon leaving the ice after the final horn.
In its first two outings this season, Salisbury had given up the first goal in each game, an unusual trend for an Andrew Will-coached team. The Knights corrected that against Millbrook, taking a 1-0 lead on Michael Cameron’s goal with 4:31 left in the first period. Luke Krys and Jake Quillan earned assists on the play.
Trailing 1-0 at the start of period two, Millbrook sprang to life with three unanswered goals in a four-minute span. The tying goal came at even-strength, 3:29 into the frame. A power-play goal at 5:45 gave the Mustangs their first lead of the game, 2-1. Another man-advantage score at 7:36 gave the visitors a two-goal bulge. Matthew DeBoer and Ilya Usau set up Lucas Mercuri, whose shot deflected off a Millbrook defender’s stick and into the net at 10:04 to pull the Knights again within one, 3-2, but back came Millbrook to score at 13:01 and reclaim the two-goal edge, 4-2.
But the Mustangs just could not stay out of the penalty box, and the Knights capitalized with two goals late in the period. Usau pocketed the first with a drive from the slot 3:09 before the second intermission, off assists from Krys and Nick Capone. Then it was Cameron again, with 1:07 left, tying the game at 4-all with assists from Matt Coronato and Cole Vallese.
Salisbury began the third period on the power play and cashed in once again. Quillan gave Salisbury its first lead since early in the second period, 5-4, scoring at 1:17 after a passing sequence from Krys and Coronato. Little would the boisterous home crowd suspect that it would be their boys’ last lead of the game.
When Millbrook turned around and tied the game, 5-5, just 36 seconds later, in came Nick Haas to relieve Levine. For a while, things settled down, but with 9:54 left, Haas had no chance on a blistering shot from the right circle just moments after a Salisbury penalty had expired. Fernandez would make some of his best saves of the game in the ensuing minutes – grand larceny, some would call it, among them Usau, whose breakaway and shifty stick-handling in front of the goal at 5:48 drew Fernandez out of position and left the Knight forward with open net on the other side. Somehow, the Millbrook goalie, lying on his back, managed to thrust his stick across the mouth to keep the puck out.
Then, with 3:28 to play, Millbrook struck again with a beautiful play moving through the neutral zone and springing a skater at the blue line on a breakaway, finishing with a perfectly placed wrister into the top-left corner. Despite the stunning turn of events that saw the home team now trailing, 7-5, the Rudd Rink crowd maintained its high-decibel support. With 3:02 left, Millbrook incurred yet another penalty. A minute later, the 5-on-4 became a 6-on-4, as Haas retreated to the bench in favor of an additional skater. But the Mustang penalty-killers and the remorseless Fernandez stood strong. With 3 seconds left, Millbrook would add its empty-net goal for the final, unthinkable margin.