NEWBURYPORT — It was an instant classic last night at the Graf Rink, as Newburyport and Triton hockey played a back-and-forth game for the ages that came down to the last shot in a shootout.
Officially, the game will go down in the record books as a 3-3 tie, meaning Triton is now one win away from qualifying for the state tournament, but the Newburyport fans were the ones who went home happy following freshman defenseman Ben Mirageas’ game-winning goal in a shootout following three intense periods of hockey.
Triton took an early lead midway through the first period after a Newburyport turnover in the offensive zone led to a two on one going the other way. Freshman Jed Cutter found senior forward Josh Brown in front of the Newburyport goal, and Brown put the puck past Clippers goalie Noah Kolesha to give the Vikings a 1-0 lead.
Newburyport knotted things up just before the first intermission, however, after junior defenseman Matthew Kelleher got free in the Triton zone and ripped a wrist shot over the left shoulder of Triton goalie Devon Shuman. Ben Ventura and Scott Webster were each credited with assists, and the two teams went into the first break tied at 1-1.
The Clippers carried their momentum into the second period, which they dominated from start to finish. Newburyport outshot Triton 16-1 in the period, and took a 2-1 lead with 4:04 to play when Webster received a pass from Ventura and stuffed it into the back of the net.
That goal was the lone blemish in the period for Shuman, who stood on his head to keep the Vikings in the game and finished the game with 38 saves. By comparison, the Newburyport defense made things easy for Kolesha, who didn’t face any significant challenges in the second period.
That changed in the third period, however, when Triton turned up the pressure on Newburyport and started to make the most of its chances. The Vikings tied the game early in the third period when junior Joe Schickling squeezed the puck through Kolesha’s legs off a pass from senior Kyle Hillick, sending the sizable Triton contingent into a frenzy.