NEWBURYPORT — The Triton hockey team made a decent entrance into the 17th Annual Newburyport Bank Hockey Classic at the Graf Rink last night, beating Shawsheen Tech 3-2 with a dominant second period.
But coming into last night's game as CAL champs and looking to prepare for the state tournament next week, Vikings' coach Drew Wile would have been happy with a little more.
"We played one period," said Wile. "We played down to our opponent and that's what happens."
The Rams controlled the first period, out-shooting Triton 9-6. Shawsheen shocked the Triton faithful four minutes into play, scoring on a strange slider underneath Viking goalie Carl Orlandi, which Orlandi seemed to stop once, then watched as the puck simply continued under his pads. Joe Sodergren was credited with the goal with assists going to Mike Wells and Ronnie Popp.
The Vikings bounced back two minutes later with a goal from captain Mike Fish, who scored top shelf on Rams' goalie Jim Crowley, assisted by Tucker Johnson and Cote Wolcik.
The second period saw the Vikings coming to life and out-shooting Shawsheen a whopping 14-3. It was Johnson who was the Vikings' hero in the period, scoring twice in a three-minute span. The first Johnson goal came on a power play as the junior sensation found the back of the net with a slap shot past Crowley's left ribs, assisted by Jon Seward and Nate Williamson. With less than a minute left in the period, Johnson struck again, finding a hole in Crowley's right side, assisted by Williamson and Matt Velonis.
But that would be the end of Triton's scoring opportunities as the Rams owned the third period, out-shooting the Vikes 12-1. With just over five minutes to play, Johnson was called on an interference penalty, allowing Shawsheen the man advantage. Sodergren once again got the best of Orlandi with a slap shot past the senior's left ribs, assisted by Ryan Capraro.
Although the Vikes are battling through some injuries at the end of the season, Wile wants to be able to put together three solid periods, every game.
"We're fighting through some injuries that we have," Wile said. "Guys are struggling out there. They drop down to two lines, we drop down to two lines. We don't have a fifth defenseman, no one is stepping up. We're still looking for a consistent third line."
Rams' coach Chuck Baker sees the Classic as a good opportunity to test his team.
"We came in with respect for their team," said Baker. "They've had a great season, they have some great players, so we got up for the game. We battle-test ourselves with a lot of D II opponents in the season. I thought we were up for the challenge. And a challenge it was. We had a little lull in the second period. But other than that, I thought it was a hard-fought battle for both teams. We battled it out."
"(My kids) never give up," continued Baker. "It's been that way since I've been involved in the program."
Triton will next face off against Danvers in the Fournier Championship game tomorrow night.
"It's for the No. three seed in the Division II tournament," Wile said of tomorrow night's tilt against Danvers. "That's what it's for. If North Andover wins and we win, we're tied. It's a coin flip. But we're facing a team that has a chance of winning the Division II North championship. You've got to be ready for that. They're a very good team and they're not driving all the way up here to lose. So it will be interesting to see."
Earlier in the day, North Andover beat Marblehead 6-2 and Saugus beat Lincoln-Sudbury in a shootout, 1-0.