By Jim Sullivan
---- — NEWBURYPORT — After a pair of 3-3 ties last season, the rival Newburyport and Triton hockey teams met at the Henry Graf Skating Rink yesterday to determine this year’s better team.
The Clippers answered the question decisively, ending Triton’s 2012 on a sour note with a resounding 4-1 victory.
“We played hard because we knew what we were going to be up against,” said Clippers coach Paul Yameen. “I’m very happy with the way that we played.”
Making Newburyport’s win all the more impressive was the fact that three of their four goals were scored by sophomores. Sophomore Matty Kelleher also had three assists.
Newburyport hit the ice fired up, getting off eight shots on Triton goalie Devon Shuman before the Vikes shot their first — almost 10 minutes in. After Triton’s Cote Wolcik was called for a tripping penalty, the first of Newburyport’s sophomore snipers, Ben Ventura, found his target with a behind-the-back shot. The goal was assisted by Kelleher and senior co-captain Connor Wile.
Triton took it to Newburyport goalie Alex Buckley in the second period, but Buckley held strong, turning back seven shots. Soon after, Clipper Tyler Therrien scored a goal off a ricochet shot from Kelleher. Newburyport’s second goal was also assisted by Tyler Cusack.
Just a little over five minutes into the final period, Therrien scored a wraparound goal — assisted by Kelleher and senior co-captain Nick Mombello — to put the Clippers ahead 3-0.
Triton was able to get on the board in the third with a Tucker Johnson goal past Buckley’s right side. Vikings Derek Donley and Kyle Hillick were credited with the assist.
“Obviously, he’s one of the best goal-scorers in the league,” Yameen said of Johnson. “It was a part of our game plan to occupy his stick, play the body with him and just get physical.”
The Clippers halted the Vikings’ momentum with an empty-netter from Kelleher that was assisted by Wile.
“They’re a good team, they’re very well coached,” Yameen said of the Vikings. “They’re prepared all the time. If you don’t come out and play well against them, you’re probably not going to win the game. I’m very happy with our effort. We certainly can improve. We have a few days of practice coming up, and we’ll see what happens.”
Yameen was also happy that none of his team’s three penalties resulted in a Triton goal.
“I think we’re a pretty good killing team,” said Yameen. “I think we showed that tonight. We killed a couple of power plays tonight, and they have a pretty good power play. They run that umbrella pretty well. We worked on that for a couple of days, and I think we did pretty well with that.”
Clearly unhappy with his team’s performance, Triton coach Drew Wile was a man of few words after the game.
“They’re better than us,” Wile said of Newburyport. “Period.”