The 19th installment of the Newburyport Bank Hockey Classic kicks off this afternoon at the Henry Graf Memorial Skating Rink, and by the end of the week each of the area’s four local teams will have a chance to finish up the regular season with some hardware.
The weeklong tournament consists of 16 teams in four different divisions, each of which will award its own championship trophy. Newburyport and Triton are in the Bresnahan Division along with Andover and Matignon. Amesbury is in the Gulazian Division with Masconomet, Bishop Fenwick and Marblehead, and Pentucket is competing in the Doyle Division with Haverhill, Rockport and Shawsheen Tech. The last group, known as the Fournier Division, includes Danvers, Lincoln-Sudbury, Saugus and North Andover.
Amesbury kicks off its tournament schedule today at 3 p.m. against Marblehead, and Pentucket opens tomorrow against Rockport at 3 p.m., but the highlight of the tournament’s first day figures to be tonight’s showdown between longtime rivals Newburyport and Triton at 7 p.m.
“To me, there’s no better setting than to play your rival and your archenemy and have so much on the line,” Triton head coach Drew Wile said. “That is why you play and the kind of games that you want to be in.”
Winners of their last four, Triton (8-9-2) has set itself up for its biggest game of the season to come against Newburyport.
“It’s my 15th year coaching and I’ve never not made the state tournament,” Wile said. “So I’m in uncharted waters as a coach. Tournament hockey is so far and beyond regular hockey. It’s not comparable. The smallest mistake can cost you the game and there is no tomorrow, so we try to rely on the few guys we have with experience and play as mistake free as possible.”