With the Division 1 state varsity boys hockey tournament just a couple weeks away, the Salem Rocks are getting sharper at precisely the right time of the year.
Salem outplayed and outscored Muskegon Mona Shores — a perennial state title contender — 5-2 on Saturday night at the Plymouth Cultural Center.
That victory nudged the Rocks closer to the Top 10. They are ranked 11th in D1 with a 9-9-3 record and are better than the record indicates due to playing a number of strong opponents in non-league matchups.
“It was one of our better overall games in a while,” Salem head coach Ryan Ossenmacher said. “We continue to work on our special teams. They will need to improve for us to find any sustained success.”
To that end, Mona Shores netted both goals on the power play while the Rocks went 0-5 with the extra man.
But Saturday’s game was encouraging on several fronts.
Senior forward Liam Walker returned to the lineup after missing three weeks due to an injury. He sparked the Salem attack, registering two goals and an assist.
Stellar in goal was senior Dillon Phillips, who stopped 21 shots, including “a few timely saves.”
According to Ossenmacher, sophomore Joey Driscoll “was one of our better forwards. He played with tremendous energy and was rewarded with his first goal of the season.”
Also scoring for Salem were forwards Evan Newel (one goal, one assist) and Zach Goleniak while winger Noah Willer tallied two assists.
Other Salem players to get on the scoresheet were forward Matt Schaumberger and defenseman Noah Saad, with one assist each.
The Rocks, who led Mona Shores 30-23 in shots, were up 2-1 after the opening stanza and padded that lead to 4-1 after two frames.
Next up for Salem is another very competitive opponent in Howell. The KLAA crossover tilt is slated for 7:30 p.m. at PCC.
UD-JESUIT 3, PLYMOUTH 1: The Wildcats dropped a non-conference varsity boys hockey game Saturday at University of Detroit-Jesuit.
Scoring for Plymouth (13-7-1) was Ricky Covault, with assists to Andrew Jossey and Josh Smith.
FOREST HILLS 4, PLYMOUTH 1: Despite the ninth goal of the season by Josh Smith (assisted by Andrew Jossey), the Wildcats fell short in this road contest Friday against Forest Hills Central.