Sophomore Andrew Bettencourt jumped on a Fitchburg miscue at center ice and burst into the offensive zone. He cut to the net and put it over Wysocki for what turned out to be the game-winning goal with 13:09 to play.
“It turned over at center ice, the puck did, and he grabbed it,” O’Neill said of Bettencourt’s goal. “He has some speed and some skill, and he drove to the cage and made a good play.”
The Falcons got within one on a power play goal by Max Lorenzen with 10:45 to go, but didn’t create many quality scoring chances the rest of the way. Salem State’s Ryan Sutliffe stopped 19 shots, including a tough 2-on-1 chance in the second and a masterful sliding save early in the third.
“I thought when we had the puck we made some opportunities and their goalie played big and strong. They defended well,” said O’Neill. “Our guy Sutty played well too. He made important saves in all three periods.”
Salem State rebounded nicely from a non-league loss to St. Anselm earlier in the week. Each of the Vikings’ lines and defensive pairs were in sync and played well both with and without the puck.
“It shows what kinds of team we have. We knew we needed to regroup and play 20 minutes every period,” said Cashin. “Overall, the team came to play. The forwards were playing good defense and the defense was moving the puck up the ice to them.”
After an early penalty kill, Defelice’s goal gave Salem State worlds of confidence to go along with the lead. Chad Goodwin, Kris Faric, Alex Minter, Mark MacDonald and Kyle Phelan played well at forward while defensemen Ian Canty and Cam Banwell were also strong.
“These days, when you get the lead it’s a different game than if you’re chasing to tie it up,” said O’Neill. “When you have that lead, you play with the puck more, it seems, and you play with more confidence.”