By Jim Sullivan
---- — The snow storm outside couldn’t cool the heat in the Graf Arena Saturday night as the Amesbury and Triton hockey teams collided to start their seasons singing much of the same tune and skating to a 2-2 tie.
“We’re very young, we’re inexperienced,” said Triton coach Drew Wile. “It showed at times, and other times we were just out there playing hockey. We stopped panicking and worrying and all that other stuff. We’re a project in the making, there is no question about it. But it’s not how you start, it’s how you finish and that’s our goal this year.”
Amesbury looked hungry right out of the gate last night, scoring five minutes into the first period courtesy of Travis Motsis, assisted by Heath King.
Triton scored twice in a row at the end of the second period after JT Chamberlain was shown the penalty box for slashing and Josh Brown took advantage 40 seconds into the power play, assisted by Kyle Hillick and Jarrod Guertin. Less than 30 seconds later, Joe Schickling hit the back of the net assisted by Jack Killion to give the Vikes the lead.
But Amesbury came back to tie things up with 1:11 left in the third period when Motsis took advantage of a 6-5 advantage and flipped one in past goalie Devon Shuman’s right side, assisted by Chamberlain.
“I’m happy with the effort based upon the fact that 10 of those kids out on the ice tonight were playing their first varsity hockey game,” said Indians coach Chris Kuchar. “We only skated two seniors tonight. It was trial by fire and a lot of those young kids really stepped it up.”
With only those two seniors on the ice and a good helping of underclassmen jumping the boards Saturday night, Kuchar may be looking to start a youth movement.
“It shows the character of the team and how they respond to adversity when they are down,” said Kuchar. “And being a young team, they definitely showed character. Travis Motsis, who is a junior, stepped up and got two goals. He really put the time in during the off-season and it really shows. He (also) had to lead a line with two other kids who never played varsity before. So that also shows character.”
The Vikings themselves are in the same situation, sporting only four seniors who are seeing regular ice time.
“We are green, there’s no question about it,” said Wile. “We have guys who, this was their first taste of something like that. It’s just unfortunate that it comes down to a man advantage.”
Amesbury has spent the last two seasons building from the net out, but with goalie Evan King and Jeff Bucyk no longer Indians, Kuchar may have to count on sophomore net minder Jake Harlow to lead them to the state tournament.
“I thought he was our best penalty killer tonight as a goalie should be,” Kuchar said of Harlow. “So for a sophomore to be thrown into the fire along with all the other kids, I thought he responded well. At the same time, it’s basically Day 14 or 15 of the season and we have a lot of things we have to work on.”
Now a Division 1 tournament team, the Vikings will need to turn up their intensity level as the season goes along to match.
“If you know anything about hockey, it’s not as big as people make it out to be,” Wile said of the divisional bump. “In two more games, we play a Division 1 opponent in Medford. We play a Super 8 contender in Beverly. I’m not worried about what tournament we go into because we’ve proven that we can play with our scrimmages.”