#6 Dexter at #1 Salisbury; Elite 8 Semi-Final
Salisbury, CT-The Salisbury Knights defeated Dexter Academy 3-2 this afternoon to move on to play KUA in a rematch of last season’s Final. Three different players scored for the Knights while Jared Levine (Newport Beach, CA) played well in the goal to earn the victory.
The first period was evenly played. Dexter looked a bit nervous but settled in as they found a way to win three or four offensive zone face offs and create some early chances. Salisbury had the first power play chance with 9:14 left and Luke Krys (Ridgefield, CT) had a quality backhand chance in tight late but Derek Mullahy (Scituate, MA) made the stop. Dexter was aggressive on the penalty kill. Dexter took a late penalty at 1:01 will carry into the second. Salisbury was uncharacteristically sloppy with the puck as Dexter’s speed at times caused them trouble. Shots and play were about even. Jared Levine (Newport Beach, CA) was tested in a few occasions and made stops while controlling his rebounds.
The second period was mostly dominated by Salisbury. The Knights came out in the power play. Lucas Mercuri (Lachaine, QC) took a pass the neutral zone and picked up speed. He pushed the Dexter defense back and snapped the puck home from the top of circles just 39 seconds in. Nick Capone (East Haven, CT) and Justin Hryckowian (Ile-Bizard, QC) picked up assists. The next ten minutes was all Salisbury as the puck was in the Dexter end for long periods of time. The Knights looked crisper and more determined and their size and strength up front started to be too much for the smaller Dexter defense. Salisbury was only able to get one passed Mullahy in that time as Mercuri gained the zone, fired a shot. Capone found the rebound and fed in the slot to Hryckowian and he slid it home. Goal was with 14:54 left and gave the Knights a two-goal cushion. Dexter gained some momentum after a power play with about seven minutes remaining. They hit a post later and the game was played pretty evenly again over the last third of the period.
13 seconds into the third period, Nick Capone tapped in a pass from Hryckowian as he jumped on a loose puck and the score was suddenly 3-0. Things looked bleak for Dexter but the third period was played much like the first. Pretty even and up and down. Both goalies were tested. Dexter finally broke through as Chase McInnis (Hingham, MA) put himself and the puck in the net. The goal was disputed but stood and Dexter was back within striking distance with 8:03 remaining. Levine made a couple of great stops including one where he slid across the crease and saved a likely score. With 2:17 left Capone backchecked hard and hit a player along the wall. We didn’t get a great look at it but it drew a reaction from the Dexter bench. A penalty was called and after the whistle, John Farinacci (Chatham, NJ) pushed Capone in an attempt to protect his teammate but then he drew a penalty. It appeared it would be all even but somehow Dexter ended up shorthanded. We don’t know why but we guess it was some sort of verbal confrontation. No announcements were made. Anyway, Dexter took Mullahy out when they could and Farinacci came out of the box and added a late goal with 10.3 seconds left. Final score Salisbury 3-Dexter 2.
Dexter Coach Dan Donato said after the game “I thought both teams played well. Salisbury is well coached and capitalized on their chances in a five-minute stretch in the second. I was proud of our team and our seniors for battling for three periods. We will miss this great group of seniors.”
Game time is 5PM tomorrow for Salisbury against Kimball Union as the Knights will seek revenge after losing last year’s championship game.
1st Nick Capone (Salisbury)
2nd Justin Hryckowian (Salisbury)
3rd Jared Levine (Salisbury)
NZ’s Take: We often talk about how Salisbury will wear teams down over the course of a game. Roll four lines and take over late. That happened some here but this game was more about the fact that Dexter had no answer for the Knights’ first line of Capone, Hryckowian and Mercuri. They dominated, especially in the second period when Salisbury really took it to Dexter early. The Salisbury defense were all very good. Dexter played hard and they should be proud. Lots of skill and talent but just not enough today. Not scoring in the first period, despite playing well was another factor. They needed a goal there as Salisbury came out a bit flat. Not bad but just a bit off. For Salisbury; Levine played very aggressively and was on his toes on the top of the crease a lot. Moved well laterally. Capone is a man among boys and perhaps the best player in NE Prep. He is a late 2001 so will be in the 2020 NHL draft. He is skilled, strong, has added more speed and has a mean streak. Mercuri’s goal was an absolute laser, elite shot and he is really hard to defend. Strong and long. Hryckowian is always around the puck. Smart, crafty and fast. All the defense played well so we won’t name names because they were all very good. Jake Quillan (Dartmouth, NS) played net to net. Excellent in every area and hit to defend. Dove to clear pucks on the penalty kill. Really solid two-way game today. For Dexter; Doug Grimes (Brookline, MA) just keeps getting better. The 2002 is big, string and smart.
Photo Credit: Dan Hickling/Hickling Images