MILTON, Mass. – Hockey is a game of flowing movement and grace punctuated by frenetic moments of chaos.
After Salisbury and Noble & Greenough battled for almost 45 minutes for the Flood-Marr tournament title, the game ended on one of those moments, a goal by Derek Barach with 27 seconds left, propelling Salisbury to a 4-3 win and its first tournament title since 2009.
Barach deflected a rising shot from Evan Smith down to the ice and poked it past Brendan Cytulik.
“I was about to come off but I stayed out there for the last shot,” Barach said. “Evan shot it on net, I tipped it down, and it landed at my feet. I just whacked at it. It's kind of lucky, but a goal's a goal so I'll take it.”
Before the curtain was fully raised on the game Salisbury was up 2-0. Goals by Smith and Griffin Luce put Salisbury up a pair just 64 seconds into the game.
“We had the momentum early,” Salisbury coach Andrew Will said. “It was certainly enough time for good teams like Nobles to regroup and get settled. They just kept plugging away.”
Nobles was able to stem the Salisbury attack and halved the deficit midway through the second period when Drew Bennett poked home a rebound. Bennett also scored Nobles' third goal.
“Drew [Bennett] was able to take advantage of the good opportunities that we had,” Nobles coach Brian Day said.
Salisbury used its size advantage to dictate tempo, but Nobles was able to keep pace. When Salisbury extended the lead to 3-1 late in the second Nobles refused to fold.
The Bulldogs buckled down and scored two goals less than five minutes apart to tie the game midway through the third period.
“The biggest thing we take away is that we're a much better team today than we were when we walked into this rink two days ago on Friday,” Day said. “We've gone through a lot of good, positive growing experience, we've competed hard. I think this will serve us well. We'll move forward and we'll be better as a result of it.”
With another notch on its belt, the top prep school team in New England shows no signs of slowing down.
“We got a great group of guys,” Barach said. “One of our mottos is to be relentless every game, and we let it get away from us a little bit but it shows we have the composure to stay even-keeled and get back in the game once they tied it up and get the winner at the end.”
SMITH'S DOMAIN: Big games call for big players and Salisbury's Evan Smith owned the role. The Yale commit scored a pair of goals to go with his assist on the game winner and provided a physical presence for the full 45 minutes.
“He's one of those kids who relishes pressure; he thrives on it,” Will said. “He looks to be the guy on the ice the team turns to. He's a relentless player; he has a ton of fun out there.”
Smith earned all-tournament honors and played like it on Sunday. Alongside his twin brother Mitchell, Smith controlled the game when he was on the ice and was a huge reason that Salisbury took home the hardware.
“To win the Flood-Marr this year, it's great to have a bunch of victories under your belt,” Smith said. “To beat a good team like Nobles is a good feeling.”