SALEM—The Salem State men’s hockey team has been prone to inconsistency this season and with first place Plymouth State visiting last night, the Vikings needed three full periods of tough, disciplined hockey.
The toughness was there from the first puck drop all the way until the final whistle, but the discipline didn’t follow suit. SSU took a few bad penalties, failed to clear the puck at some pivotal points and fell behind by a pair of goals in the first period as Plymouth State left Rockett Arena with a 4-1 win over the home club.
“It’s tough. We just need to come together better as a team and be a little more mentally tough. We have to work harder and work smarter,” explained senior captain Matt Kenline. “We have a good team in that locker room but we have to come to battle every night. Especially against a team like Plymouth.”
SSU (8-6-1) committed the first three penalties of the game and had five total in the first two periods. The Panthers only scored one power-play goal but the increased time SSU spent shorthanded disrupted its momentum. The Vikings dropped to 5-3-1 on the season.
“It was an emotional game. We took a couple penalties early and that took us out of the way we wanted to play,” said Vikings head coach Bill O’Neill. “They (PSU) capitalized on their opportunities and they were able to get a lead and open the game up. We weren’t able to match that and that’s how it went.”
The Panthers (12-4) are the top team in the Massachusetts State College Athletic Conference with an 8-0-1 conference record after last night’s game. The Vikings skated and hit with Plymouth State and even outshot the Panthers 35-31 but SSU took a majority of its shots from outside and couldn’t quite corral any rebounds.