NEWBURYPORT -- As far as the Cape Ann League is concerned, North Reading (11-2-1, 8-2-1 in the CAL) has been the team to beat in hockey this season. But that is exactly what Newburyport did at the Graf last night, handing the Hornets their second loss of the season, 4-3.
“It was a very well-played high school hockey game,” said Clippers’ coach Paul Yameen. “The people got their money’s worth tonight.”
Both teams went for a skate the first eight minutes of the first period, up and down with speed the order of the day until Newburyport’s Austin Roy snuck the puck past North Reading goalie Keith Linnane’s right skate in a scrum, assisted by Tim Brennan and Ben Mirageas to give Newburyport (9-6-1, 7-3-1 in the CAL) the lead going into the first intermission.
Brennan was called for a tripping penalty at the top of the second period, and the power play resulted in a Hornet goal off of Clippers’ freshman goalie Robbie Federico courtesy of Nick Day. Jared Potter and Tom Day assisted on the goal to tie things at one.
Newburyport answered back seven minutes later when Scott Webster charged the net and scored off of Linnane’s weak right side, assisted by Brendan Barraclough and Mirageas.
The Clippers jumped ahead another goal with less than a minute left to play in the second period when Tyler Therrien beat Linnane on his left side for an unassisted goal.
North Reading wasn’t done in the third period however, as Christopher Onanian scored top shelf on Federico with five minutes left to go in the game on a goal assisted by Shane Driscoll and Ben Schille.
Potter would then tie things up with two and a half minutes to go on a goal assisted by Sean McGreal.
“That has been the big asset for this team all year, our third periods,” said North Reading coach John Giuliotti. “But, unfortunately, we were just a goal short [tonight].”
Newburyport’s Matty Kelleher caught a penalty for hooking with a minute and a half to go, but Mirageas still scored the game-winner in the tense final minute of play. Travis Wile had the assist.
“It was up-and-down,” Yameen said of the final minute and a half. “We have great fans that made it a very electric atmosphere. That’s what you want these kids to play in. I’ve said it before and I will say it again, (we) are lucky to have the fans that (we) have.”
The Clippers have been on hot streak of late, going 6-1-1 since losing 2-1 to the Hornets in North Reading exactly one month ago.
“I think about us a month ago and everybody had written us off,” Yameen said. “But the season is three months long. Our guys are playing well and we are excited for the rest of the year.”
Newburyport must now turn around and host Saugus (4-10) today at noon.
“Saugus is an improved team,” Yameen said. “They beat Amesbury pretty good last week. So we have a 16-hour turnaround here and we will see what happens. I’m excited about it and I’d play it right now if we could.”
“Our league is very difficult and Newburyport has always been a very, very good team,” Giuliotti said. “They are well-coached and are always a top-dog in our league. Coming into Newburyport, you have to play at your best, every single shift. We took a couple of shifts off and Newburyport found the weak spots and they got the win.”