On the shoulders of a Cam Bergeman net-front goal in the second period and Graham Burke’s denial of a penalty shot early in the third, the Salesianum hockey team punched their ticket to the 2018 Flyers Cup championship game with a gritty 1-0 win over the Kingsway Regional Dragons on Wednesday evening (March 14) at the Patriot Ice Center in Newark, Del.
Despite Salesianum outshooting Kingsway 13-3 in the first period, the same stellar goaltending from Mark Higginbotham that lifted the Dragons past top-ranked Moorestown in Tuesday’s quarterfinal kept his side in the hunt the entire game. Just over six minutes into the second period, freshman centre Cam Bergeman batted home the lone goal of the game, completing a back-door give-and-go from Tim Crane from the left edge of the crease. Remarkably, Higginbotham stopped 33 of the 34 shots he faced, but a strong Salesianum forecheck limited the number of quality chances Kingsway was able to generate out of their own zone.
The strongest chance the Dragons had at tying the game came in the third minute of the third period, when Jason Player was awarded a penalty shot after he was impeded from behind on a breakaway. Salesianum goalie Graham Burke got the last word on the penalty shot, extending his right leg to deny Player’s attempt to deke and jam the puck in the left corner of the net. Burke saved all 13 shots he faced en route to his third shutout of the season.
Salesianum’s power play was kept scoreless on four opportunities, but were able to cycle the puck effectively in the offensive zone in their final man-up situation—which began with 1:11 remaining in regulation—to nurse their 1-0 lead and prevent the Dragons from pulling Higginbotham for a chance at the tying goal.
With the semifinal win, Salesianum will host Eastern Regional for the Flyers Cup championship on Friday evening (March 16) at the Patriot Ice Center. Game time is TBA; air time for coverage on Delaware Hockey Night Radio will be announced once game time is established.
Eastern defeated Cherokee, 7-4, with Max Kuznetsov contributing four of the Vikings’ goals.