For the Salesianum hockey team, it was déjà vu all over again on Friday night (March 16).
Early domination of all three zones, laser-like shot accuracy, and fantastic goaltending from Graham Burke enabled the Sals to jump out to a 5-0 lead through the first two periods and hold off a late charge from the Eastern Regional (N.J.) Vikings for a 7-3 win in the 2017-18 New Jersey/Delaware Flyers Cup championship game at the Patriot Ice Center in Newark, Del.
Salesianium controlled offensive territory for much of the first period, only allowing five shots on goal in that time while accounting for 16 of their own. Fisher Sellers accounted for the lone goal in the opening frame, completing a give-and-go with Cam Bergeman with a net-front tap-in past Isaac Bleicher at the 9:00 mark. Sellers went on to lead Salesianum with a hat trick, adding a second goal late in the second period to lift his side to a 5-0 advantage after Ethan Scharp and both Crane brothers—Matt and Tim—found the back of the net earlier in the middle period.
The Sallies’ shutout hopes ended with four seconds remaining in the second, as Jack McGrath posted up in front of the goal mouth and redirected a Max Kuznetsov chance from the top of the left circle past Burke five seconds into a Patrick Kelly high-sticking minor. Kuznetsov, who was silenced effectively by the defensive tandem of Joey DeFilippis and Mike Nauman for the first two periods, went on to account for a pair of Vikings goals in the third period.
After freshman forward Cam Bergeman beat Vikings defenceman Ethan Raeuber in a one-on-one and jammed the puck into the left corner of the goal 67 seconds in to restore a five-goal advantage for Salesianum, Kuznetsov responded with a strong wrist shot up the left-wing boards 3:19 into the period. His 53rd goal of the season was the second power-play tally for Eastern on the night, and he followed it up at 11:25 with a laser from the left dot which bounced off Burke’s left leg pad and trickled over the goal line.
Despite the Vikings’ comeback, Sellers gave Salesianum the last word, converting a Jack Brady feed for a bar-down goal with 1:43 left in the contest.
Graham Burke ended the season with a 9-7-0 record between the pipes, registering 33 saves on 36 Eastern shots in the championship game.
Last season, Salesianum defeated Eastern, 4-2, in the semifinal round before blanking Moorestown, 7-0, to claim their first Flyers Cup.