After the game, Salisbury head coach Andrew Will gave a positive update on West.
“He’s got pain in his neck and upper back, he has no numbness, he has full mobility and range of motion,” he said, “I think he’s going to be absolutely fine, but obviously scary.”
The title was Salisbury’s fifth in the past decade, all during Will’s tenure.
“I think it’s a testament to the kids that come to Salisbury,” he said, “They’re obviously really passionate and motivated on the hockey side, but they’re giving everything they can in all areas.”
Salisbury (23-5-0) came firing from the gates and scored twice in the first four minutes. Seniors Oliver Frontini and Ryan Walsh both sent wrist shots just under the bar to give the Crimson Knights the early cushion.
That cushion would not last long as junior Brock Cummings counted out for Belmont Hill (20-3-3) to halve the lead with 13 minutes left. Unfortunately, that would already be the extent of the rating for the sextants.
Salisbury senior goaltender Austin McNicholas of Clarence Center, NY closed the door in the last two thirds, stopping a total of 23 shots.
Senior Dylan Hryckowian scored late in the second period in a beautifully executed 2-on-1 and junior Ben Poitras finished the game with an empty net and 1:28 to go. However, it was the stable goalkeeper that made the difference for Salisbury.
“In January we sat down and [McNicholas] said ‘I’ll carry us,’ and he did,” Will said. “Just the attitude and composure he played with today and during the playoffs was amazing.”
McNicholas was at his best when it mattered, making seven saves and helping to score two penalties in the third period.
“It feels incredible,” he said. “It’s what you work for all year and with all the effort we put into it, it’s great to see it pay off.”
Kent 4, Brunswick 2 — Senior Cole Watson scored twice to guide the Lions to the NEPSAC Martin/Earl Championship. Classmates Joey Sciabarra and Dante Palombo also netted.
Pomfret 4, Frederick Gunn (Conn.) 2 — Captain Nils Forselius opened the scoring and then scored the game-winning goal for the Griffins (13-5-4) to win the NEPSAC Piatelli/Simmons Championship. Jesse Heinberg scored early and Declan Chapman’s empty goal set a shout for the win.
Division Dorothy Howard (small)
Rivers 2, New Hampton 0 — Senior captain Kayla Castellucci started the game with a bang, scoring a goal after just three minutes.
Junior forward Stella Mullen added a goal in the third goal and senior captain Eve Stone was upside down in goal as fifth-ranked Red Wings (17-9-1) won the NEPSAC Dorothy Howard (Small) Championship.
“The momentum for us is often Eve’s big save that gets the girls going,” Rivers coach Courtney Sheary said. “For her to play like she did in her last game today as a Red Wing, she set our girls up and was ready to go into every single shift.”
Playing as an underdog in every game of the tournament, Sheary said her team stuck to what they did best.
“Our team has grown over the year,” she said. “We started playing as a team and we just adopted our system. Put the puck in deep and chased in the offensive zone.”
Sheary credited much of the success of her senior class team and first-year assistant coach Ryan Bourque, son of former Bruins Hall-of-Famer Ray Bourque.
“Having the lead over all nine [seniors] got us to where we are today and I’m grateful to them all,” she said. “[Bourque] has so much experience of hockey which has helped us get to where we are now.”
Department Patsy Odden (large)
BB&N 4, Hirschfeld 1 — Freshman forward Hannah Weyerhaeuser recorded 2 goals and added an assist and senior forwards Sophia Kennedy and Ashley Hallice each recorded a goal and an assist for the Knights winning the NEPSAC Patsy Odden (Large) Championship.
“That was probably our best game we played from start to finish,” said coach Ed Bourget. “That is the pinnacle for the seniors to get the win. It was an absolute team effort for everyone who has ever played here and we took that to heart.”
Sophomore goalkeeper Alexsa Caron solidified her case for tournament MVP by allowing just two goals in the tournament and making 28 saves in the final.
“Her posture and the way she handles the first shot and how she can control the rebounds has a lot to do with it,” Bourget said. “She has a lot of poise for a sophomore. This year she has become very confident as a player.”
Correspondent AJ Traub contributed to this story.