By Dan Harrison CORRESPONDENT
The Salem News
---- — SALEM- If the Salem State men’s hockey team can play the way it did for the first nine minutes of yesterday’s game against Wentworth, the Vikings season should hold a lot of promise.
Unfortunately in last night’s home opener, SSU couldn’t maintain that high level of play and saw a two goal lead evaporate into a 3-2 loss at the hands of a very good Wentworth team.
The Vikings top forward line of Kyle Phelan, Eric Defelice and Chad Goodwin scored both of Salem State’s goals in the opening nine minutes of the first period, but the Leopards were able to score once in all three periods.
“We started well. We were able to get the puck in (to the zone), we made some pretty good plays and scored. We had some other opportunities along the way,” said SSU head coach Bill O’Neil. “Wentworth got stronger as the game got on and it became a battle along the walls. They chipped away and got the next one (goal) and that was a really important goal to get.”
Salem State (1-1-0) sent a barrage of shots on Wentworth (2-0-1) netminder Alex Peck as the Vikings finished the first period with 20 shots on goal. Kyle Phelan scored 30 seconds into the game when he smashed home a rebound after Chad Goodwin broke in with a defender draped all over him and forced Peck into a sprawling save.
Defelice scored the second goal of the game from the slot off an offensive zone faceoff after Goodwin made a nice feed from behind the net.
“They (Phelan, Defelice and Goodwin) are good players, really skilled players who are able to get a puck and make a play,” said O’Neil. “That is a big deal here because its difficult to find space. So to anticipate and execute a play-they did a good job of it.”
Mike Domsodi cut the SSU deficit to a goal late in the first period when he was able to capitalize off of a third rebound. Vikings goalie Ryan Sutliffe had 29 saves and didn’t give up a bad goal all night. Mike Cox scored in the second period after a Wentworth shot from the point hit a SSU defenseman in front and landed on the Cox’s stick with a wide open look at the net.
Even the game-winner nine minutes into the third was a little wacky. After a shot from the point took an odd ricochet behind the net, the puck squirted right to Joel Vastl, who had a wide-open net to shoot at.
“They (SSU) were more ready to play than we were. I think hockey is a game of momentum and energy. They had it and I don’t think it was totally corrected until midway through the second (period),” said Wentworth coach R.J. Tolan. “My guys just needed to compete a little harder. No Xs and Os, just a little bit more effort and competitive spirit.”
That competitive spirit, from both clubs, is something SSU hockey fans have been itching to see. Whether it had to do with the lack of Bruins games or not, Rockett Arena was packed with students who showed up in full to support the Vikings in their first home game.
“I Think we had a good crowd for the first night. I think we can put some exciting games together here,” said O’Neil. “I hope people in our student body support us like they did tonight.”