DULUTH, Minn. — The nightcap featured a little more offense than the earlier dogfight, but when all was said and done the host Saints pulled out the 4-3 overtime victory over visiting Salem State in the first ever meeting between programs.
The feeling out process that is expected when two unknowns meet never materialized and jetlag was clearly not a factor for Salem State as they jumped on the Saints early and controlled the tempo for the better part of the first period. It paid off at the 16:29 mark as Vikings forward Damen Nisula fired a wrister from the right circle that beat Saints goaltender Zach Zleiman five hole.
The Vikings outshot the Saints 13-8 in the period, but the nearly perfect start was foiled with only eighteen seconds left in the stanza as, on the power play following a high stick on Salem States Mike Genovese, Saints defenseman Austin Brown wound a low wrist shot from the blue line through traffic and past Vikings goaltender James LaCour. The period ended tied 1-1.
If the late St. Scholastica goal didnt kill the momentum Salem State had built up in the better part of the opening period, the chain of events that unfurled early in the second period certainly tried to.
First, the Vikings had a goal disallowed after the goal came off a split second before the puck was put in. They then escaped a Saints power play that included a shot off the post only to fall behind 3-1 as Saints forwards Tyler Miller and Carter Davis struck at the 6:06 and 9:01 marks, respectively.
The Vikings rebounded just over a minute later to cut the lead to 3-2 as an interference penalty on the Saints Daman Milsom set the stage for Vikings forward Nick Lampson. On the ensuing power play, Lampson walked the puck in straight off a faceoff drop, faked backhand and beat Kleiman forehand.
The back-and-forth action continued throughout the second half of the period, but neither team was able to find the back of the net again and the Saints 3-2 held through the second intermission.
It was a brand new hockey game at 7:49 of the third, however, as a great individual effort resulted in Nisula roofing a beautiful backhander over Kleiman to tie the game up at 3-3.
It was one of only three shots in the period for Salem State, but LaCour was strong in net down the stretch, stopped all 11 shots he faced in the period, and regulated ended with it still knotted up at 3-3.
LaCour once again rose to the occasion in overtime with a flurry of saves just less than two minutes into the five minute extra session.
Unfortunately for the Vikings it wasnt enough as, at the 2:48 mark, difficulty clearing their own zone led to a turnover on the side wall that found its way to the stick of Saints forward Jordan Baird who found space between the circles and got off a wrister that just grazed the inside of the right post on its way to the back of the net to give the Saints the 4-3 win.
LaCour turned back 35 shots in the contest while Kleiman stopped 22 for the Saints. Salem State picked up its first loss of the season and dropped to 3-1 while St. Scholastica moved to 4-1-2.