Newark, Del. — With 2:41 seconds left in Tuesday’s (March 12) game against Kingsway Regional (N.J.), it appeared Salesianum’s run for a third straight Flyers Cup title was cut short.
A coast-to-coast power play goal from defenceman Dylan Johnson in the final 88 seconds of regulation, however, paved the way for freshman Logan Downs’s overtime game-winner as Salesianum rallied to a 2-1 win over the Dragons at the Patriot Ice Center.
The first two periods — while scoreless — were back-and-forth and evenly matched, with both defences effectively keeping action to the boards and neither team able to generate quality chances. The Dragons gained momentum midway through the second period, peppering Salesianum goalie Graham Burke with four shots during a Pat Kelly hooking minor, but failed to convert on any of them. Kingsway’s next power play — with Kelly again off for interference at 10:56 in the third period — proved more fruitful, when Jason Player earned his third Flyers Cup goal with a snipe from the left dot set up by Brian Barnett.
Just 26 seconds after Player’s goal, Dragons winger Jake Woody was assessed a slashing minor, leading to Salesianum’s lone power play of the game. Johnson pounced in short order, carrying the puck the length of the ice and beating Mike Lieze with a wrist shot from just inside the left circle to tie the game at 1-1, but the path to overtime became tougher for the Sals when Kelly was issued his third penalty of the game — a slashing minor — in the final 56 seconds of regulation.
The Salesianum penalty-killing unit, anchored by Johnson and Will Calandra, held tough to keep Kingsway at bay for the last minute of regulation and the first minute of overtime. Shortly after regaining full strength and re-entering the Dragons zone, Johnson generated a shot from the left circle after fielding a back-door pass, but was denied by Lieze. Downs, who established net-front presence on the opposite side, found the rebound and fired it into the right side of the Kingsway net 1:56 into the extra period to secure victory for Salesianum.
Burke stopped 25 of 26 shots in victory, while Lieze recorded 24 saves on 26 shots faced in defeat.
Salesianum meets Delaware Military Academy for the fourth time this season in Wednesday’s semifinal matchup. After Salesianum won both regular-season meetings, DMA proved victorious, 2-0, in the 2019 Delaware Cup final, and since defeated Moorestown (N.J.), 5-2, to cement their place in the Flyers Cup semifinal. Game time from the Patriot Ice Center is listed at 7:40 p.m.; full coverage will be provided at Delaware Hockey Night Radio and via the DHN Facebook page.