NEWBURYPORT — The Newburyport hockey team started the 17th annual Newburyport Bank Hockey Classic on a positive note, taking Bishop Fenwick to the cleaners 4-1.
But although the Clippers won the night, Newburyport coach Paul Yameen sees a lot more work that needs to be done before the state tournament.
"We need to play better," said a frustrated Yameen. "We go up 4-0 and the game's over. It's just going to come back and bite us. It's not a good time of the year to start playing like that."
The Clippers hit the ice in the first period and wasted no time getting down to business. Senior Payson Cahill had the first goal for Newburyport just over four minutes in on the Clippers' first two shots of the game. The 6-foot-2-inch, hard-hitting forward fielded his own rebound and made a diving goal just past Bishop Fenwick goalie Pat O'Leary's left side.
Crusader Mike Cipriani caught a trip to the penalty box for hooking just seconds after Cahill's goal and Clipper captain Cam Roy took advantage right away. Ben Ventura passed to Roy, who dumped the puck past O'Leary's lower left side to give Newburyport a quick 2-0 lead.
Pat Crowley lit the lamp for the Clippers to end the first period, scoring top shelf on O'Leary assisted by Travis Wile and Matt Kelleher.
The second period saw the Crusaders showing more life and almost doubling their shot count. But Clipper goalie Alex Buckley held strong, which allowed junior Nick Mombello to score his first goal of the season, assisted beautifully by Ben Ventura, who came in on O'Leary's right side, passing clear across to Mombello, who buried, nice and easy.
But that would be the end of the offense for the Clippers. In the third period, Roy and Dom Ferreira caught a pair of penalties, allowing Bishop Fenwick a five-on-three advantage. Brian Bassett took advantage of the opportunity, scoring up-top past Buckley's right shoulder, assisted by Brian Corcoran, to give the Crusaders something to show for the night.
"We don't finish," said Yameen. "It's happened so many times this year and it's going to come back and bite us. It's a one-game series for the rest of the year. You let teams hang around and bad things happen. We need to play better. That's it."
Crusaders coach Dan Lynch has been leading a team that's been snake bit by injuries all year, but saw some signs of hope even in this loss.
"It's been a long year for us," admitted Lynch. "There's just a lot of things we need to do better. I'm pleased with the young players coming along. We've got a lot of players that are injured right now, so we're basically a young team that's finding its way. Newburyport's a good team and we allowed them to carry the play to us for the first and second period. We came out in the third and I thought we took a little bit of the play back.
"We've had trouble scoring all year," said Lynch, who has four of nine seniors out on injury. "We're a defensive team anyway, so we're not going to score a lot of goals. But we're going to be OK. We need to work on some things and we'll be fine. I'm pleased with the goaltender and I'm pleased with our young guys."