SALEM — Salem State men’s hockey coach Bill O’Neill has been impressed with the play from netminder Ryan Sutliffe this year, claiming the junior hasn’t cost the Vikings any wins this season.
In Saturday’s 5-3 win over the University of Southern Maine Sutliffe’s big, breakaway save on Brad McGovern didn’t just prevent a loss but actually may have won his team the game.
Locked in a 2-2 tie in the opening minute of the third period, McGovern finished serving a too many men penalty and snuck behind the SSU defense where he took a pass and bore down alone on Suttlife (31saves). The Vikings goaltender slammed the doors and less than a minute later, Chad Goodwin swatted home a bouncing rebound off Andrew Bettencourt’s shot to give SSU (6-4-1) the lead for good.
“How big was that (save)? You need goaltending. It’s such a key, and he has played solid for us. He hasn’t beaten us in any games,” explained O’Neill. “It’s a game of momentum. We took turns with the momentum. They took parts of that game and we were fortunate that we were able to score when we did. It was good win; we’ll take this.”
The visiting Huskies (5-7-0) took an early lead off a howitzer of a slapshot from Danvers native Troy Thibodeau. After a SSU turnover in the neutral zone, Thibodeau uncorked a shot from the top of the right circle that banked off the left post and in. Kristofer Faric evened the game for SSU when he took a quick, turn-around snap shot that surprised Huskies goalie Patrick Farrington.
That pace carried into the second period before SSU took over for good in the third. After Goodwin’s game-winner Matt Kenline stole the puck in the neutral zone and beat Farrington low blocker side before Goodwin finished off a breakaway with a nice high backhand to put the Vikings up 5-2.