MERIDEN, N.H. — Defending champion Salisbury School beat Kimball Union 2-1 at 8:37 of overtime to punch its ticket to the final game at Belmont Hill on Sunday (5 p.m.).
Northeastern recruit Ben Poitras scored the winning goal on a seemingly non-threatening shot from the outside that eluded goaltender Dan Heroux (University of Vermont) to knock out the NEPSAC Elite 8 tournament’s top seed. The sudden death strike sent the No. 5 Crimson Knights down to Massachusetts for a chance to keep their prep hockey crown earned two years ago after the COVID-19 pandemic wiped out the 2020-21 prep hockey season.
Akerstrom Arena was buzzing with the up-and-down action between two balanced, deep and experienced teams with great coaching. As expected, it was a low-scoring affair, and the on-ice officials did a good job of managing the game with appropriate calls, letting the players decide who moved on to the title contest. Both squads competed hard, and after some early tentative shifts, settled in for a defensive battle. Coaches Andrew Will and Tim Whitehead kept the teams true to their defensive structure, and when there were breakdowns the goaltending of Heroux and Salisbury’s Austin McNicholas were able to make the saves.
KUA had been the class of the Lakes Region Conference and overcame a 1-0 deficit with a late goal that gave the reigning champs all they could handle. Now, Salisbury will try to win their third consecutive road game against another top defensive team with some intriguing storylines in Belmont Hill.