By Dan Guttenplan
---- — NEWBURYPORT — For a night, it played out just the way the Triton hockey team imagined it would.
Senior forward Kyle Hillick had a hand in three goals, sophomore Jack Norton carried the momentum from a promising freshman season in scoring two goals of his own, and senior goaltender Devon Shuman posted a shutout in net.
The Vikings (1-4-2) just expected it all to happen a little sooner. Triton picked up its first win of the season last night — a 3-0 defeat of Saugus (1-5-0) at Graf Rink.
Hillick, who tallied 35 points as a junior, snapped a personal six-game goal-scoring drought to notch his first goal of the season along with two assists. Norton, who was Triton’s top freshman last season with five points, played a two-man game with Hillick all night en route to two goals and an assist. Shuman continued his steady season, allowing two goals or less for the fourth time this season.
“A relief? It sure is,” Triton coach Drew Wile said. “They deserve it. I can’t question their effort. In six of our seven games, they’ve outshot the other team. Guys are snakebitten, and they’re feeling the pressure. (Last night), they finally went in.”
A feeling of relief appeared to sweep through the Triton bench after the first goal, which was scored by Hillick. Not only did Hillick, a player the Vikings expected to score 12 to 15 goals this season, snap his scoreless games streak, but, as a team, the Vikings scored a goal for the first time in three games.
“It was tough,” Hillick said. “I knew my linemates would keep setting me up. I’ve had chances, but I couldn’t finish. I finally got it done. I got it in the net. It’s good to get it out of the way and move on.”
Hillick played like a new man after the goal, clearly emerging as the best player on the ice over the final 35 minutes. He set up both of Norton’s goals, but could have been credited with as many as four assists had his teammates finished golden opportunities.
Shuman was in control all night, turning away 18 Saugus shots. The senior captain has been the bright spot of an otherwise frustrating season.
“Devon Shuman’s goaltending has been fantastic,” Wile said. “We don’t give up a lot of goals. (Last night), the two guys that are supposed to score goals scored goals. We’re a total work in progress, but we have a chance to pick up four points in 48 hours, which would be huge.”
Triton will play Masconomet in Haverhill tomorrow night. With a win, the Vikings would move into a crowded pack in the middle of the Cape Ann League as the season approaches the midway point.
“We didn’t expect to be in this position, but this is the situation we’re in,” Wile said. “It will make boys into young men, and that’s one of the goals of the program.”