Two weeks ago, the Newburyport hockey team took the ice against Winchester in the program’s first ever postseason game at the Division I level.
Winchester, a team that went 11-5-5 in a tough Middlesex League, came into the game as a heavy favorite. The Sachems had already beaten Arlington, Wilmington and Hingham, tied Reading and played competitive games against St. John’s Prep and the three-time defending Super 8 Champions Malden Catholic earlier in the season.
Just for good measure, a few days before facing Newburyport, the Sachems took a two and a half hour drive down to New Haven to face Hamden High School, historically one of the top programs in Connecticut, and blasted the Green Dragons 5-0 on their home ice.
Despite having reached the state tournament 10 consecutive years, a lot of people thought Newburyport was in over its head at the Division I level and wouldn’t stand a chance against Winchester. That was the perception within the program at least, and the Clippers played like they had something to prove.
Newburyport dominated Winchester early, and after falling behind 2-0 the Clippers came back with two quick goals to tie the game early in the third period. After the game, head coach Paul Yameen said he felt his team beat Winchester in every facet of the game except one, the scoreboard.
Winchester wound up winning 3-2 after senior Brendan Greene scored to put his team up for good with about 12 minutes left, and after the final buzzer sounded, the players left the ice visibly distraught, heartbroken that their season had come to such an abrupt end.
Sitting in the stands at the Stoneham Rink that day was Chris Wile, the father of Newburyport senior captain Travis Wile and a man who has probably watched more Newburyport hockey over the past decade than anyone except perhaps the coaches themselves.