Mar. 7—Salem High School boys hockey coach knows the cliche of a 2-0 lead being the worst in the sport but it proved to be what his team needed in the NHIAA Division I quarterfinals on Saturday.
The Blue Devils' pair of second-period goals were just enough to earn a 2-1 triumph over Pinkerton Academy of Derry at the Icenter in Salem and advance to the semifinals.
Salem (13-1) will play the winner of Saturday night's quarterfinal game between Bedford and Exeter in the semifinals on Wednesday at JFK Coliseum in Manchester. Pinkerton finished 4-6.
Salem struck with both an early and late goal in the second period to take its 2-0 advantage into the final 15 minutes.
Blue Devils senior forward Sam Maietta scored a power-play rebound goal via assists from Brady Ferreira and Ryan Pappalardo 3:18 into the middle frame to open the game's scoring. Pappalardo put home a low shot from the doorstep off a feed from Ryan Allard with 18.7 seconds remaining before the second intermission to double Salem's lead.
Pappalardo's tally, his 14th of the season and third of the playoffs, came about a minute after the Blue Devils shut down Pinkerton's second power play of the period.
"That was a big goal, especially in the playoffs," McGinn said. "They say a two-goal lead is the worst lead but I'll take it any day...It definitely mentally made a big difference going up 2-0 than 1-0 going into the third."
The Astros pulled within one via a shorthanded goal from Lorenzo Corsetto 4:11 into the third period. The sophomore forward scored on a diving shot in front off following a stretch pass from junior defenseman Ryan Leighton.
Pinkerton pulled senior goaltender Paul Lescovitz (26 saves) for the extra skater with 1:06 left.
Salem senior goaltender Spencer Deane made 22 saves and the Blue Devils held Pinkerton to single digit shots on goal in each of the first periods. The Astros went 0-for-3 on the power play and 1-for-2 on the penalty kill.
"They're really good at clogging up the middle," Pinkerton coach Sam Littlefield said of the Blue Devils. "They did a good job limiting our chances. We generated offense and possession in their zone but in terms of getting pucks through we had a tougher time with that."