Maine Hockey Journal

Southern Maine makes a statement over Salem State

Gorham, ME — With Christmas break around the corner, the University of Southern Maine men’s ice hockey team made a statement as they build toward the second half of the season with an impressive 5-2 win over nationally ranked Salem State College in front of a raucous crowd at the USM Ice Arena on Thursday night.

After going 0-4-1, Southern Maine has put together a string of games, winning their last two games and earning five out of a possible eight points over their last four games.

“Weekend after weekend you’re playing top-quality teams and sometimes records are deceiving because we all beat up on each other,” said USM head coach Jeff Beaney. “It was a statement game for us, both regionally and nationally because of what Salem did — beating #3 St. Norbert — and it’s the MASCAC’s (Massachusetts State College Athletic Conference)best team.”

After beating in-state rival University of New England, 2-1, on Tuesday night, the Huskies were playing their fourth game in seven nights, this time against an opponent that’s ranked 15th in the nation according to the latest poll.

Salem State would open the scoring in the first period when Alex Eisath found the back of the net, beating sophomore goalie Koray Celik at 6:23 of the period.

Southern Maine bounced back in the closing minute of the first period when Zach Joy scored the first of his two goals on the night, crashing the net off the ensuing faceoff, beating Salem State goalie James Lacour at 19:06 of the period.

At 14:33 of the second period, Southern Maine found their rhythm as Paul Conter, rushed into the slot, sending a shovel shot on net, giving the Huskies their first lead of the game, 2-1.

“Sometimes as a coach it’s pulling teeth to make them realize how good they can be,” Beaney said. “All of our games have been one goal games, and we didn’t get a lot of breaks early. I believe you have to make them and I think today we went out and made them,”

With 1:33 left in the period, Salem State managed to get a puck by Celik as Casey Terreri fired a wrist shot from the slot, beating Celik between the goal pads to tie the game at 2-2.

When the third period began, Celik was no where to be found for Southern Maine as sophomore Mason St. Hillaire, a Saco native, was between the pipes. The change in net was for precautionary reasons as Celik was complaining of dizziness and has battled a couple concussions in the past.

St. Hillarie wasn’t tested much in the third period, but played admirably when called upon as Southern Maine dominated the final 20 minutes of the game.

At 2:34, Kevin Smith was the beneficiary of missed call by the officials as the net was off the moorings, giving Southern Maine a lead they’d never relinquish, at 3-2.

With Smith moving toward the net, it was knocked off the moorings by Lacour, which was missed by the officials as Smith fired the puck on net, where it deflected off Lacour into the net.

Midway into the third period, Chris Travis fired a laser off the ensuing faceoff from Jon Rutt, by Lacour, giving the Huskies a 4-2 lead with 10:50 to play in the game.

Joy put the game away with 2:42 to play in the game when he snapped a shot from the left circle, catching the far post as Southern Maine skated away with a three goal lead, 5-2.

Celik stopped 13 of 15 shots in the no-decision, while St. Hillarie stopped all 10 shots he faced in the win — his first collegiate win. James Lacour made 32 saves in the loss.

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