Squirt 2 Team at Go for the Gold Tournament, (left, back): Assistant Coach Rick Moore, Matt Bergeron, Michael Borrelli, Steve Birch, Paddy Capsalis, Head Coach Patrick O’Neill, Michael Vincente, Assistant Coach Jeff Appleyard. (Front): Charlie Beneze, Joe Moore, Kevin Bolio, Shea Kingsley, Becca Healey, Ryan Letourneau, Emma O’Neill, Cam Appleyard.
The last week for the Saints was a strong one with a record of 10-4-1. Salem completed the Valley League season and all teams are heading to the playoffs this week. The Peewee 2 team is leading their division while Mites, Squirt 2, and Bantam 2 teams are in second place in their divisions. The Saints Squirt 1 is third while the Bantam 1s are forth and Peewees 1 and 3 teams are in fifth.
Saints Mites had a tough loss to Masco 2 to 1. The Squirt 1 team recorded two wins, with the first win being against Woburn at 4 to 3. The Saints were down 3-0 going into the third period and scored 4 unanswered goals. Cam Jenkins broke the ice with Dylan Salvo, Landon Krekorian and Jacob Sylvester rounding out the scoring. The other win was against Marblehead at 3 to 1with Jacob Sylvester scoring two and Landon Krekorian getting the other goal.
The Squirt 2 team had a stellar week for regular play, 4-0-0, beating Woburn (twice), Winthrop, and Peabody. The team also won the Peabody “Go for the Gold Tournament.” Salem started out with a 5-0 win over Danvers with goals scored by Michael Borrelli (two), Kevin Bolio (two) and Charlie Beneze. The Saints followed up with another Ryan Letoureau shutout and a 3-0 win against the North Shore Ice Hawks. Goal scorers in that game were Borrelli, Beneze and Joe Moore. Solid defensive play by Becca Healey, Paddy Capsalis, Steve Birch, Emma O’Neill and Cam Appleyard contributed to the wins. The next weekend started out with a loss to Peabody 4-1 with Charlie Beneze scoring the only goal for the Saints. In the finals, Salem faced Peabody again. Kevin Bolio scored for Salem 45 seconds into the overtime to give Salem the Tournament Gold Medal. Ryan Letourneau had three shutouts in the four games
The PeeWee 1 team won their only game of the week against Andover 5-3. The Peewee 2s held on their top spot in the division by beating Burlington 5-2 and scoring a 3-3 tie with Andover. Peewee 3 found themselves winning in a shutout against Burlington, 4-0. Ryan Nelson scored twice and Niko Foti and Eddie Ryan each scored one.
The Saints Bantams had a tough week going 1-3-0. The Bantam 2 team got the only win for the division against Woburn at 5-4. Then the team lost to NE Stars at 6-7. The Bantam 1 team recorded two losses for the week. One to Triton, 1-0 and the other to Woburn 4 to 3.
The Salem Blue Devil hockey team finished the regular season at 9-8-1 and hosted a Manchester West team that they had lost to, 3-2, back in early December when coach Mark McGinn was just getting his team put together. This time McGinn slipped in a couple of new freshmen and sophomores with his veteran juniors and seniors, and even though they fell behind 3-0 in the first 10 minutes of the game, they were able to scratch their way back through hard work. The Blue Devils scored five unanswered goals (four of them in the third period) and beat the Blue Knights 5-4. That gave them the unenviable task of next taking on the number one seeded, two time defending champion Bishop Guertin Cardinals at Skate III in Tyngsborough, MA. The Salem kids got off to a quick 2-0 lead and led 2-1 after one period. After the Cardinals tied it at 2-2, the Blue Devils took a 3-2 lead before Bishop Guertin was able to tie it up at 3-3 with only 10 seconds left in the second period. The score stood at 3-3 all the way through the third period and then through 12 minutes of sudden death overtime before Bishop Guertin was finally able to sneak a goal past junior goalie Robbie Liberatore for the 4-3 overtime win. The Cardinals next faced the Pinkerton Astros, and JJ Solloway was sensational for Pinkerton as they knocked off the number one seed 2-1. Pinkerton then went to the finals against St. Thomas, and the Astros were able to take their first ever Division 1 title 3-0. Coach McGinn’s Salem kids played Pinkerton twice this season, and they won the first meeting 4-3 in the finals of the Christmas Tournament, and then lost a tough 1-0 game up at the Ice Den in Hooksett. Salem played St. Thomas twice during the year too, as they beat the Saints 4-2 in Salem early in the season before losing to St. Thomas on the next to last regular season game, 3-2, in overtime.
Coach McGinn will lose eight seniors that were very good scorers, with seniors Joe Vastl and Marc Baroni leading the list. Vastl was the top goal scorer with 14 goals and Baroni was smooth as silk on defense for the Blue Devils, and both were named to the Senior Hockey All-Star Make-a-Wish team that played their game over at the Icenter last Sunday afternoon. Vastl and Baroni played for the White Team and didn’t figure in the scoring, but they both played well and represented their school in a first-class manner, even though the Blue Team won this game 7-1. Cory Lavallee manned the Salem defense with Baroni and was a key player on Salem’s special teams and will be sorely missed. Mike Rocheleau had his four or five goals this season, but this spunky forward just went out and played hard every game with good clean hits and was a major factor for the Blue Devils. John Pettoruto and Aaron Mackey were also up there with the top scorers on the team, and Pettoruto might have been playing his best hockey of the season down the stretch and in the playoffs when his team needed him the most. Joe Simone and Chris Smerdon also were key pieces in the Blue Devils offense and both will be missed on next year’s team. McGinn had one of the top goalies in the state in junior Robbie Liberatore, who stopped 57 shots in the playoff loss to the Cardinals in overtime, but as of right now, McGinn isn’t sure if he is coming back for his senior year or playing Junior Hockey next winter. Junior Mike Frahm will definitely be coming back and leading the team on offense next season, as will his junior teammate Dakota McKenzie, who drew raves from coach McGinn towards the end of the regular season and in the playoffs. Some other Blue Devils who played inspired hockey down the stretch were defensemen Kenny Frazier, Nick Barreira, and Brian Shea, and junior forwards Bryan Thibodeau and Shane Delandy. Chad Livingston won two games in goal, as the sophomore will be returning along with junior forward Timmy Kingdon, but coach McGinn also gave some JVs a taste of the big time in the playoffs and he liked what he saw from freshmen Mike Downing, Matt Hemmerdinger, Connor Lyons, and Tyler Phair, and I wouldn’t be in the least surprised to be hearing a lot about those kids next winter.
Coach McGinn wrapped it up for the season by saying, “We started out pretty good, won the Christmas Tournament winning all three games, but then we had some speed bumps along the way. I called up some of the younger kids down the stretch to see what they could do, and I was impressed with what they showed me in the few shifts I gave them. I hope that these kids keep it up and keep that youthful enthusiasm for the next two or three years. I loved the way we played hard in the overtime loss up at St. Thomas, and the way the team played their hearts out in the 2-0 shutout at Hanover, after they had beaten us 7-2 the week before in Salem. I thought being down 3-0 midway through the first period to West in our first playoff game was a real test of what we were made up of. Our kids settled down and just chipped away at the lead and won it 5-4. I loved the way these kids came out and jumped out to an early 2-0 lead at Skate III in the quarter finals against Bishop Guertin and took them 12 minutes into overtime before we were edged. We split with Pinkerton on the year with us beating them 4-3 in December and them edging us 1-0 up at the Ice Den in January, but our kids proved that we could play with anybody, and that’s why I’m excited about what this group can accomplish next season.”