NEWBURYPORT — Inconsistency has been the cornerstone of this year’s Triton hockey season. The Vikings (11-6-1) often come out playing tremendous hockey in the first period, disappear in the second and then their fate is decided in the third. What better way to shake that up going into the last week of the regular season than to host perennial Division 2 powerhouse Franklin (13-5-2) Saturday?
The Panthers didn’t disappoint either, behind a spectacular offense powered by forwards Aiden Isberg and Cam Curley to teach the Vikes a 5-1 lesson.
“We have to learn from this,” said Vikings coach Drew Wile. “Tomorrow we’re going to be right back on the ice, because we’ve got to face a team that beat that team. We’ve got to figure it out. I’m dying to see my best players play their best game against a better team.”
Triton started the day off on the defensive after Joe Schickling was called for an interference penalty, allowing Curley to score on Triton goalie Devon Shuman just five minutes in, assisted by Mike Patjane.
Triton’s Tucker Johnson evened things up four minutes later with a flip-top goal past Franklin goalie Devon Maloof’s left shoulder, assisted by Kyle Hillick and Zack D’Agostino, to give the Vikes their single bright spot of the day.
Then the second period arrived, and with it came the Viking siesta. Isberg dumped it in past Shuman’s left skate, assisted by Troy Donahue, with a little over a minute to go in the period to give the Panthers the 2-1 advantage before the all-important third period, where Triton remained in the Land of Nod.
The Panthers hit Shuman for another goal seven minutes into the final stanza thanks to a one-timer by Joe Bourque, assisted by Pat Slason and Kyle Filbert. Franklin struck again with four minutes to go, this time on a goal from Patjane, assisted by Dennis Pisani. The Panthers did it all over again with a little over a minute to go, thanks to Alec Borkowski, who was assisted by Slason and Bourque.
“It was a good job for us, we played for three periods,” said Panthers coach Chris Spillane. “I thought we had a really good third period. We took care of our opportunities, so it was a good win. We want to play our best hockey this last week of the season so that we’re confident. We just had a good start, and if we can finish the week this way, I’ll feel good about it.”
Wile was at no loss for words after the game.
“Big players play big in big games,” said Wile. “And as I look here at the score sheet, their three captains are all over it. This is why I wanted to play this game. For some guys, I wonder just how serious this is for them. That, unfortunately, is where we’re at.
“That team knows how to win,” Wile said of Franklin. “We just faced a (TD Bank) Garden team three years in a row. So we have to learn. We have a lot of work to do. We did not come out with the same energy as we did in the past two games. We did not attack. We watched the puck.”