By Jim Sullivan
---- — STONEHAM — Maybe next year.
For the third time in three years, the Newburyport hockey team has made a quick exit from the Division 2 North tournament, dropping a 4-2 heartbreaker to Concord-Carlisle at the Stoneham Arena last night.
“It’s always hard when the season ends,” said Clipper coach Paul Yameen. “We had a great bunch of guys this year. It’s difficult, but it’s part of life. Somebody wins, somebody loses. It just hasn’t been going our way for the past two years as far as the tournament goes. But my guys played hard and we had a pretty successful season. It’s just too bad that it has to end this way.”
The fifth-seeded Clippers (12-4-5) came out strong against 11th-seeded Concord (11-8-2) to start the first period, getting off two shots on Patriots’ goalie Ranger Beguelin in the first minute.
But the Concord offense showed why they were playing last night as well, coming at Clippers’ goalie Alex Buckley early and often.
Nine minutes in, Clipper Nate Hickman scored up high with a shot just past Beguelin’s left glove, assisted by Jayson Dylingowski and Connor Wile, to take things to a 1-0 Newburyport advantage going into the first intermission.
Hickman did it all over again in the first minute of the second period, the very same shot, the very same results, to give his team some nice breathing room.
Newburyport’s Nick Federico was called on a tripping penalty six minutes later and the Patriots took advantage, scoring just two seconds after the power play began, courtesy of Brendan Harrigan, assisted by Nick McCormack, to put Concord on the boards and one away from Port.
“When we got that goal on the power play,” said Patriots coach Kevin Harrington, “it started to feel like the ice tilted a little bit in our favor. We had picked our speed up. I thought we were going blow to blow with them, physically. And I think our speed is what ultimately was able to give us the advantage.”
Momentum shifted to the Patriots in the last five minutes of the second period and Clay Trussell took it for all it was worth, scoring on a breakaway to leave things knotted at two going into the second intermission.
Concord’s Nick Brozowski started the third period off by slipping the puck past Buckley’s right skate to give the Patriots their first lead of the night.
Charlie Canter hit Buckley for the Patriots’ fourth unanswered goal with 10 minutes to go, assisted by Chilliy Sample and John Carroll. And that would be it for the Clippers’ season.
“Honestly, we haven’t been playing very well now for over a month,” Yameen said. “If you look at us for the past month, we’ve struggled for whatever reason. The effort was there, we just weren’t clicking. It happens.