The Newburyport hockey team took the ice for the first time as a Division 1 team before its home crowd last night, and then spent 45 minutes looking like anything but a Division 1 team.
The Clippers (1-1-0) fell to Cape Ann League foe Masconomet 4-2 at the Graf Rink. Masconomet tallied three goals in the second period — one each by Mike Castro, Jared Brann and Steve Pease — to seal its second win in Newburyport in as many years. Pease added an empty-netter in the final minute to seal the 4-2 win.
“We should never overlook these guys,” Newburyport coach Paul Yameen said. “They kicked our butts here last year. They came in and did the same thing. Some of the guys in our room were here for that. They outplayed us, outworked us, outhit us and outskated us. It’s very, very disappointing.”
The sledding won’t get any easier for the Clippers before the end of 2013. They face Beverly, a team that went 18-2-1 last year, on Monday, before finishing off the calendar year at the Cape Cod Freeze Out, a tournament that includes three other Division 1 teams including Barnstable, Braintree and Springfield Cathedral.
If the Clippers hope to finish any better than 1-4-0 in their first five games, they will need to win a signifcantly higher percentage of battles along the boards in addition to improving their collective scoring touch around the net. Last night, the Clippers were plagued by penalties, but not the borderline kind that can be the result of slightly overaggressive play. The Clippers simply made too many mental mistakes that resulted in 90-second minors.
“It’s disturbing to me the lack of effort,” Yameen said. “We’re a much better team than that. We just didn’t show up to play. We have a lot to work on. I can’t pinpoint exactly what went wrong, but I can say we have a lot to work on.”
If there is one positive to be taken from the first two games for Newburyport, it is the play of its freshman class. Freshmen Ben Mirageas and Tanner Derby are both playing 20-plus minutes per game on defense, and they are making the transition to high school look easy. Freshman goaltender Robert Federico also logged a shutout in net against Lynnfield in the opener, although he wasn’t tested as much as sophomore goaltender Noah Kolesha last night.
The last time the Clippers boasted a freshman class that saw this much ice time right away was 2008, when Billy Boudreau, Billy Eiserman, Gaven LaValley and Anthony Federico all played significant roles as freshman. The Clippers won the state championship the following season with those four continuing to play significant roles as sophomores.
Kolesha, who made his first varsity start, had some positive moments early and late in the game, although he had a rocky second period. The three second-period goals came on a variety of scoring opportunities. The first was a redirected shot from the point, the second was on a rebound in front of the net, and the third was a 1-on-1 situation on a breakaway. Kolesha also finished off the period with a penalty for a cross check.
Still, after last night, the fact that Newburyport entered the season without a single goaltender who had logged a varsity minute no longer ranks as the highest concern moving forward.