By Greg Story
---- — SALEM — After backing into the MIAA State Tournament with a 1-3 record in their final four games, the Triton Vikings hockey team saw their season come to a close with a 2-1 loss to the Winthrop Vikings in the first round of the North Division 2 bracket.
Triton was able to outshoot Winthrop 23-19, but had trouble finding the back of the net through the game’s first 44 minutes as they were kept off the board until pulling goalie Devon Shuman (17 saves) in favor of the extra skater.
Following the game, Triton coach Drew Wile shared his disappointment that his club didn’t play the entire game with the sense of urgency they showed in the game’s waning seconds.
“For the most part, in the first period we were all over them territorially, and just didn’t get our noses dirty enough,” Wile said. “You gotta play this game like you have the pulled goalie and you’re down a goal all the time, and we didn’t, unfortunately.”
Triton was forced to play from behind very early on, as in the game’s opening minutes, Winthrop’s Pierce Lamberton intercepted the puck in the Triton zone and found Pat Todisco in front of the net. Todisco was able to draw Shuman into an awkward position and bury home the goal with 10:06 remaining in the first period.
Just over five minutes later, it looked as if Todisco would put Triton into an even bigger hole after beating Shuman again. The goal was waved off, however, due to a goalie interference call that went against Winthrop.
Winthrop coach Dale Dunbar didn’t see eye-to-eye with the referees on the call, and let them know his frustration during the first intermission.
“(I told the referees) don’t be the show, there’s no time for that,” Dunbar said. “If a call’s made like that, he should be adamant about it. Go announce it, and come right to me with an explanation. I don’t think anybody saw what that possibly could have been.”
Winthrop would be handed a minor penalty to open the second period following Dunbar’s dispute. Both teams saw nice opportunities in the second for scoring chances but were not able to capitalize.
For Triton, it came shortly after killing a period with nearly three minutes left as Jacob Wood surprised Winthrop coming straight from the Triton bench to intercept a pass and skate up for a breakaway. But Winthrop’s sophomore goalie Ray Feeley (22 saves) stoned Wood and forward Josh Brown’s rebound attempt.
On the other end, Winthrop again missed an opportunity to go up two when Alex Annzoni’s one-timer attempt sailed over the Triton net as the horn sounded to the end the second period.
However, Winthrop would add a little insurance in the third, as from the top of the left face-off circle, Steven Goddard blasted a slap-shot glove side for their second goal.
Triton was kept off the board until with 33 seconds left, Kyle Hillick put in the rebound from right in front of the net. Unfortunately for Triton, they did not have the time for another quality scoring opportunity as the clock expired on their season.
“Hopefully, this is a learning lesson for the young guys to see that you just can’t put the time in two weeks before the season, and then during the season,” Wile said following the game. “Overall, I love this group of seniors. They’re special to me, they’ve been here the three years I’ve been here. They’re important kids to me, and they gave me everything they had, I can’t question that.”
WINTHROP – Pat Todisco from Pierce Lamberton with 10:06 remaining
WINTHROP – Steven Goddard assisted by Chris Page and Pierce Lamberton 6:39 remaining
TRITON – Kyle Hillick assisted by Josh Brown and Zack D’Agostino :33 remaining
Triton’s Devon Shuman 17 saves
Winthrop’s Ray Feeley 22 saves