NEWBURYPORT — Masconomet claimed the Newburyport Bank Tournament’s Gulazian Division Championship last night, blowing out Amesbury 6-1 at the Graf Rink on the strength of a four-goal explosion in the first period.
Amesbury was overwhelmed early on by Masconomet, who scored four goals in a span of eight minutes late in the first period, including two power play goals and another with 24.9 seconds before the intermission.
Masco’s first goal came with 8:14 remaining in the period, when the Chieftains got on a power play and scored almost immediately. Junior defenseman Joe Griffin finished a play started by forwards Tyler Costello and Mike Castro to give the Chieftains a 1-0 lead.
Shortly afterward, Griffin scored again following a turnover in Amesbury’s zone to extend the Chieftains’ lead, and he then assisted on a goal scored by Jared Brann with 4:24 to play to make it 3-0. Castro scored the fourth goal late in the period, and the Indians went into the break facing a major uphill battle.
The second period didn’t start well for the Indians either, as Masco defenseman Mike Jesi scored three minutes in to extend the Chieftains’ lead to 5-0, prompting Amesbury to pull its goalie.
Amesbury began to pick things up after the Jesi goal, and the Indians finally got on the board midway through the period when sophomore forward JT Chamberlain scored a beautiful goal with 3:56 to play in the period.
Chamberlain took the puck and rushed the net with a Masco defender riding him hard and scored while falling down to make it a 5-1 game. Bradley Kelleher and Zach Fitzgerald were credited with assists on the play.
“We started the first good, but then we got a penalty and that slowed us down,” said Amesbury coach Chris Kuchar. “But I liked the way we came back and played tough, physical hockey in the second and third periods.”
Kuchar said that Amesbury suffered a number of injuries in the second period and was playing shorthanded for the latter part of the game.
Despite this, the Indians only allowed one more goal the rest of the way and shut the Chieftains down in the third period.
Griffin finished the game with two goals and three assists, and Brann added two goals of his own to pace the Chieftains’ attack. Both players were named to the Newburyport Bank Gulazian Division All-Tournament team following the game, along with goalie Mitch Nekoroski, who was named tournament MVP, and Amesbury’s Chamberlain and Austin Toohey.
With the loss, Amesbury finishes the regular season 8-8-4 and will await its pairing in the state tournament, which will be announced over the weekend.
Despite the lopsided final score, Kuchar said he feels his team played well down the stretch and should feel good about its chances going into the tournament.
“We played four or five tournament teams in a row, and other than the first period today, I thought we played all of them really well,” Kuchar said. “So I just told the guys that the season doesn’t end today, the season starts today.”