NEWBURYPORT — The Triton varsity hockey team’s season ended in heartbreak last night as the Vikings tied Andover 2-2 in the consolation game of the Newburyport Bank Bresnahan Division Tournament, when they gave up the season-ending goal with less than two minutes to play.
Coming into the game with a record of 8-9-3, Triton needed only one more win to qualify for the state tournament. The Vikings looked to be dead and buried just three weeks ago, but after winning four of their last five and taking a 2-1 lead over Andover late in the second period, it looked as if the Vikings were going to be able to pull it off.
But with 1:41 left to play, Andover freshman Matthew Quercia beat Triton goalie Spencer Norton to tie the game, and just like that, the dream was over.
“There’s a lot of emotion. I have a tremendous amount of pride for those guys, for the way they conducted themselves and carried themselves throughout the year,” said Triton coach Drew Wile after the game. “We walk out of this rink winners, because right now it’s more than just about a tournament. Over the last three weeks we had a tremendous amount of life lessons that we’ve learned from, good and bad.”
Had the Vikings held their lead, defenseman Andrew Sheerin would have been the hero. Sheerin scored the go-ahead goal with 1:46 to play in the second period, and as the Vikings held the lead throughout the third, the fans at the Graf Rink grew steadily louder as the clock ticked down to zero.
Even early in the game, it seemed as if it was going to be Triton’s day. A few minutes into the first period, Triton appeared to catch some of the same good luck the USA men’s team caught against Russia, when an Andover goal was waved off due to a dislodged net.
Andover wouldn’t stay down for long, however, as senior defenseman Jack Wilkie slipped a wrist shot past Triton goalie Spencer Norton about a minute later to give the Golden Warriors an early 1-0 lead.
Triton responded to the goal with 10 minutes of dominant hockey, holding the puck in the Andover end of the ice for nearly the entire remainder of the period.
The Vikings outshot the Golden Warriors 15-3 in the first period, and after Andover senior Conor O’Reilly was called for cross checking, the Vikings capitalized with a goal from Jack Norton to tie the game at one. Shea Capolupo and Kyle Hillick were credited with assists on the tying goal.
Triton continued to dominate the time of possession in the second period, and finally had something to show for it when Sheerin scored his goal. But despite playing well in the third, the Vikings ultimately couldn’t put Andover away.
Triton finishes the season 8-9-4, and despite the disappointment he feels for his players, Wile said he is immensely proud of his team and will look back at this season as a lesson on how to live life.
“Things don’t always go your way. You start out in a hole, feel like it’s one road bump after another, and you fight through it,” Wile said. “You fight through adversity, you stay together, you stay positive, and you work together. It’s the ultimate team. This was a great team to work with, so I’ll look back on this season and think of a team that didn’t quit.”