MANCHESTER — Sometimes a tie can be either demoralizing or uplifting for a team.
Following a 3-3 Division I ice hockey decision between defending state champion Manchester Memorial and division-leading Salem at the JFK Coliseum Thursday, both coaches leaned more to the latter.
“We just played the top team to a tie,” said Memorial coach Mark Putney. “Earlier this season, we beat Nashua North and Trinity when they were ahead of us in the standings. Overall our team now recognizes that we can play with anyone.”
On the other side Salem coach Mark McGinn praised his team from battling back from a two-goal deficit in the third period. “Our kids showed heart and came back to earn a point,” said McGinn. “We didn’t put three good periods together and part of the reason why was because of Memorial’s effort. But at the end of the day, we didn’t lose and that’s a good thing.”
Statistically McGinn said Salem’s worst period this season has been the first one. But the Blue Devils gained the early lead behind a pretty backhander from Cody Soucy, who steered the puck across the crease.
Memorial answered with two second-period power-play goals. Brady Sufat tipped home a blue line shot from Bryer Bilodeau and, three minutes later, Shane Allen’s centering pass allowed Nicholas Burgess to swoop in alone for a quick wrist shot over Salem goalie Sam MacDonald’s glove hand.
MacDonald is probably still kicking himself for allowing Memorial’s third goal with 2:37 left in the middle frame. He saved a shot with his glove, but dropped the puck. Skating in the right place at the right time in front, Memorial’s Bryce Jacob collected the gift and banged it home.
Salem came out of the second intermission with passion. Soucy scored a power play goal 37 seconds into the third period. Two minutes later the game was tied when Chris Lemay beat Memorial netminder Aaron Shrum top shelf.
Over the last 18 minutes including the eight-minute overtime frame, Shrum (29 saves) and MacDonald (27 saves) both stood tall. MacDonald turned back three power-play attempts for Memorial in the third period and Shrum turned into a brick wall when Salem had the man advantage twice, including once in overtime.
“We threw a lot of pucks tonight toward the net and MacDonald played well, as did Aaron. The two goals Aaron gave up in the third period were NHL type goals. Those were two solid shots on net,” said Putney. “All in all, I’m satisfied with the effort our team showed against a very good team.”
Memorial (5-2-2) travels to the Dover Ice Arena on Saturday to play third-place St. Thomas (8-1-1) at 1 p.m. Salem (9-1-1) returns home to the ICEnter to face second-ranked Londonderry (9-2-0) next Wednesday in a 3:50 p.m. start.