By Dan Harrison
---- — SALEM —The Salem State men’s ice hockey team allowed for first period goals last night with winless Westfield State in town.
Even worse, after the Vikings battled back to take a lead in the second period, the team gave up what proved to be the game-winner on an short-handed goal as the Owls earned a wild 8-5 win over Salem State.
“I’m not sure how it started but it wasn’t too good an effort all around,” SSU head coach Bill O’Neill said of his 2-1 club’s performance. “Westfield’s better players played better than ours and it filtered through and gave them confidence. And there was some entitlement on our team.”
Vince Perreault scored twice for the Owls (1-4) in the opening period and markers from Frank Zuccaro and Jackson Leef helped the Owls jump out to a 4-2 first period lead. The Vikings pulled goalie Ryan Sutliffe after Zuccaro made it 3-0 and put in back up Ed Fritz.
The move gave the Vikings a little life as Kristofer Faric and Kyle Phelan got SSU on the board before the end of the period. The Vikings skated much better in the second frame as Phelan and Faric both found the back of the net again along with freshman and Peabody native Alex Minter as the hosts took a 5-4 lead.
Westfield State tied the game up on Zuccaro’s second of the night before things unraveled in the third period, which started with a successful Owls penalty kill.
“It’s a 60-minute game and we got way behind early. We battled back but they killed off that penalty (to start the third) and we went flat after that,” said O’Neill.
Perreault got the game-winner and completed his hat trick when Westfield jumped up for a 3-on-1 despite being a man down. Leef scored the next two goals including an empty netter to ice it.
Salem State meanwhile was led by Phelan and Faric however the Vikings really struggled on the power-play. The team registered a ton of shots but couldn’t quite find the back of the net enough times. SSU held a 38-16 shot advantage.
Faric scored his first on a wrap-around before going top shelf in the second period. Phelan meanwhile tipped home a shot from the point in the first period before sniping one low, glove-side in the second.
The Vikings continue to get impressive play from Minter, who now has a goal in consecutive games. The former Peabody star showed great speed to catch up with linemate Tanner Fahlstedt on a 2-on-1 in the second period. Fahlstedt gave Minter a saucer pass and the freshman forward was able to bat it out of mid-air to beat Owls netminder Eddie Davey (33 saves) to the far side.
At the time, the goal tied the game for the Vikings.
“He played with some purpose and some energy,” said O’Neill. “We’re fortunate to get a couple of goals out of him so far.”
Boxford native Keaton Cashin was his usual physical self on the backline for Salem State. The Vikings even used him as forward in desperation time because of the high motor and relentlessness he plays with.