NEWBURYPORT — The Pentucket varsity hockey team defeated Rockport 4-2 in a physical first round matchup at the Newburyport Bank Tournament yesterday afternoon.
Trailing 2-1 going into the third, Pentucket capitalized on a lengthy power play after a Rockport skater was sent off for a 4-minute major. Sensing a chance to turn the game around, the Sachems scored three unanswered goals in a span of 1:03 to take the lead and ultimately secure the win.
For better or worse, the story of the game was Rockport senior Jon Ferrante, who had about as big an impact as one player can possibly have on a game, both positively and negatively.
After an evenly matched opening sequence, Rockport got on the board first following a defensive miscue near the Pentucket blue line. Ferrante grabbed the puck with nothing but open ice in front of him to put it past Pentucket keeper Robert Porter to give the Vikings an early 1-0 lead.
Seconds after giving his team the lead, however, Ferrante found himself in the penalty box after he cross-checked a Pentucket skater making a rush to the Rockport net. The Sachems quickly made the most of the power play opportunity, as junior forward Ben Klosowski received a pass from senior captain Patrick Slack and scored to tie the game at 1-1.
Pentucket’s puck control issues on the blue line stung them again shortly afterward, however, as another Sachem turnover gave Ferrante a second breakaway opportunity. Just like the first, Ferrante beat Porter to score his second goal of the game, giving the Vikings a 2-1 lead going into the first intermission.
The second period was a largely uneventful affair until the last five minutes, when things started getting chippy and players started going to the penalty box left and right.
It started when Pentucket defenseman Michael Kutcher was sent to the box for interference with 5:26 left to play in the period, giving Rockport its first power play of the game.
The Vikings squandered the opportunity 30 seconds later after Vikings junior Kyle Nelson was sent to the box for slashing; and after the ensuing four-on-four expired, Pentucket found itself on the power play again after Nelson was called for another penalty.
With 2:13 left to play in the period, two more skaters found themselves in the box after Pentucket’s Bob Barry and Rockport’s Anthony Lange were given matching penalties for slashing and roughing respectively; and while Rockport killed off the second Nelson penalty adeptly, it soon found itself in a hole it couldn’t crawl out.
Moments after Nelson stepped back on the ice, Ferrante lined up a Pentucket skater and checked him from behind. Ferrante was called for hitting from behind and assessed a 4-minute major plus a game misconduct.
The penalty carried over to the third period, and before two minutes had passed, Pentucket had scored three goals to take a 4-2 lead.
Barry scored the first goal to tie the game off a pass from Klosowski 58 seconds into the period, and about 45 seconds later Jeremy Binding received a pass from Kutcher to give the Sachems the lead. Finally, Pentucket got an insurance goal from sophomore forward Cam Wolbach off an assist from Barry, and that was pretty much all she wrote.
As the game wound down, tensions started to boil over between the two teams, and with about a minute left, a brief fight broke out after a physical play in front of the Pentucket net. Nelson was ejected from the game due to his role in the skirmish, shortly after Ferrante was tossed for boarding moments after his lengthy misconduct penalty finally expired.
“I think we really kept our poise out there,” Pentucket coach Bill Burns said after the game. “Especially with that 4-minute penalty where we were able to put things together and execute some plays.”
Klosowski and Barry each finished with 1 goal and 1 assist, and Porter had 19 saves on 21 shots. With the win, Pentucket improves to 6-12-0 on the year and will play in the Newburyport Bank Doyle Division Championship game on Friday at 5 p.m.