By Jim Sullivan
---- — GLOUCESTER —The Triton hockey team’s only consistency right now is their inconsistency, and the Vikes showed it again against Beverly in Gloucester last night, falling to the Panthers 6-3 in the opening round of the Cape Ann Savings Bank 6th Annual Holiday Hockey Tournament.
“You can’t play 13 minutes of a game,” Triton coach Drew Wile said after the game. “I think we proved in 13 minutes of the third period that we can play with these guys. But you can’t do that. You’re not going to be able to win any hockey games when you come in star-struck and watching.
“What bothers me, is that we just kind of showed up. There was not much to show.”
If the Vikings were star-struck, it showed in the beginning of the game as the Panthers controlled the flow from the get-go, firing off five shots to Triton’s one. With just under five minutes left in the frame, Panther Connor Irving scored on a rebound off Triton goalie Devon Shuman’s chest. He was assisted by Nick Albano, who followed that up with a goal of his own, assisted by Jesse MacLaughlin, to put Beverly up 2-0 going into the first intermission.
The Panthers continued to dominate in the second period, scoring on a goal from Graham Doherty, who was assisted by Jack Morency just three minutes in.
Triton got on the boards half-way through the period when Jack Norton lifted the puck past Panther goalie Tim Birarelli’s left hand, assisted by Josh Brown. But Beverly answered right back, thanks to a slapshot goal from Andrew Irving, assisted by Doherty.
“They’re better than us,” Wile said of Beverly. “We got star-struck and we looked foolish and kudos to them. They’re the best team we’ve see this year, but for 13 minutes in the third period, we were neck and neck with them, if not a little better, and that’s something we can build off of.”
Those 13 minutes began just under four minutes into the third period when Kyle Hillick dumped one in past Birarelli’s weak left side, unassisted, to half Beverly’s lead to 4-2. Then Hillick took advantage of a Beverly high-sticking penalty to score again, this time assisted by Derek Donley to make things a one-point game.
But Beverly wasn’t done, as things began to spiral out of control with a pair of game misconducts being handed out to both teams. Connor Irving came in again past Shuman’s right side, assisted by his cousin, Andrew, and Ross Wahl scored an empty-netter to end the game for the final 6-3 tally.
“We can’t have guys not showing up” said Wile. “As inconsistent as we are. Not show up for full games, not show up for periods, not show up for shift-to-shift. And our inconsistency in not putting together a full game right now is really hurting us. There’s no doubt in my mind, if we play anything like we did tonight we’ll lose (the consolation game against either Marblehead or Gloucester) tomorrow too.”
“They’re a good team,” Panthers’ coach Bob Gilligan said of Triton. “I think we got a little step on them. They never got going in the first period and in the third period, they got right back into it. Give these kids credit, they never shut down and they kept skating.”