The Amesbury hockey team won its Newburyport Bank Tournament opener yesterday afternoon in dramatic fashion, erasing a two-goal deficit late to tie Marblehead 2-2 in regulation before winning in the fifth round of a shootout.
With the result, Amesbury will qualify for the state tournament for the first time since 2006, head coach Chris Kuchar said.
“All the effort and all the work they put in during the offseason came down to today,” Kuchar said. “I’m happy for all the kids for the effort that they put in during the offseason to make themselves bigger, faster and stronger, and now it paid off.”
After being beaten in just about every phase of the game for the first two and a half periods, the Amesbury offense came to life as time began to wind down. Trailing 2-0 with about nine minutes to play in the third period, senior forward Connor Stevens received a pass in front of the net from sophomore Keith Kowalick and buried it to cut the deficit to one.
About two minutes later, Amesbury tied the game after senior captain Zach Fitzgerald ripped a slapshot off a pass from sophomore Heath King and it deflected off a defenseman’s stick. Amesbury had a number of other quality scoring chances the rest of the way, keeping the Magicians on their heels before the final buzzer sounded and the game went to a shootout.
The first four rounds of the shootout ended without a goal for either side, as four skaters brought the puck up the ice for each team and failed to beat the other team’s goalie. The closest attempt came in the second round, when Marblehead sophomore Matt Koopman put a good move on Amesbury keeper Jake Harlow, but the puck rung off the post.
Finally, in the fifth round, sophomore defenseman Nick Corcoran took the ice for the second time all season and buried a shot over the right shoulder of Marblehead keeper Harrison Young.