By Dan Harrison
---- — SALEM- All season long the Salem High boys hockey team has refused to jumble its lines. Instead, the same three guys on each unit have been playing together all season and it’s built a measure of cohesion among the forwards, especially the guys on the third and fourth lines who don’t always see shifts in high volume.
Last night, with winless O’Bryant visiting, the Witches gave heavy ice time to its third and fourth lines and the boys stepped up big with a 13-1 home victory.
“We work all the lines the same way. We haven’t varied the lines at all so they’ve worked together now for (14 games) and that’s started
to show,” explained Salem head coach Ted Hanley. “It’s all in the growing process. Tonight we played a team where we were able to do
that (play the third and fourth lines a lot) and we’re going to take advantage of those things. We’ll take the win. I can’t say enough about the boys tonight. I’m really proud of them.”
Salem had nine different goal scorers led by a hat trick from Jake Stahlman and a two-goal, one-assist night from Matt Andre. Thirteen different Witches registered at least a point as the club bumped its overall record to 3-8-3 while O’Bryant dropped to 0-14-1.
“It’s a team effort. When your number is called you have to step up,” said Hanley. “The more playing time we can get to those kids (on the
third and fourth lines) the better off we’re going to be in the future.”
Stahlman scored twice in the first period while Danny Heck, Matt Jalbert, Matt Robinson and Spencer Bergholtz also found the back of the net as the Witches took a 6-0 lead into the first intermission.
“He (Stahlman) had a very good game. Actually, the whole Salem team did,” noted O’Bryant skipper Joseph Natola. “For a program that is starting to try and come back, they were excellent. They treated our guys really good.”
O’Bryant netminder Ryan McGahey made 28 saves through two periods including a spectacular glove save in the second period. The Salem back up, Grant Thompson, got the start. While he only had nine saves, the junior showed his ability to cover the low parts of the net in the first period before making a breakaway stop right before the break.
O’Bryant did score in the third period when Jonathan Hoang one-timed a great feed from Dom Gates. But outside of the one goal, the Salem defense was on point in front of Thompson. It was a full three periods of hockey for the Witches, who seem to be gaining momentum at the right time of the season. With Everett on Saturday, Salem is looking for its second straight win and third straight without a loss.
“We’re on a little roll here” said Hanley. “This is first time we’ve talked about possibly getting 20 points. We’re at nine or 10 right now. If we can put something together in Everett I think the boys are going to start to feel it.”
Jared Blyer, Eli Spector and Jake Batista also had goals for the Witches.