After stealing the lead in the Cape Ann League CAL from Amesbury just before Christmas, only to lose it to Newburyport eight days later, the Triton hockey team has battled through the loss of its best forward, Tucker Johnson, to suspension and a nasty virus to stay in the hunt for a league title.
The Vikings (6-2-0 overall, 4-1-0 CAL) have won their last two games, reminding people they’re still a threat after taking down Masco last night, 4-2, at the Graf Rink.
“I don’t know what we are right now,” said Vikings coach Drew Wile. “But what I care about is, every day we come to work and try to get better. We want to go out and get two points, and tonight was a big two points.”
The Vikes came out strong, getting off four unanswered shots in the first five minutes. But Masco goalie Matt Cardillo stopped all attempts as his offense would warm up along the way to a scoreless period.
The second period has been where Triton has been comatose this season, and last night was looking to prove no different as Masco (3-5-1 overall, 2-3-1 CAL) swarmed Vikings goalie Devon Shuman — that is until Kyle Hillick charged in on Cardillo and found his opening past the goalie’s right ribs, assisted by Jake Wood and Jared Salmon with six minutes left.
The Chieftains wouldn’t let that stand for very long as Trevor Surette dumped one in just past Shuman’s left skate to tie things up, assisted by Jake Jesi going into the second intermission.
The last stanza began with Viking Cote Wolcik grabbing ahold of a rebound to jump his team ahead with 10 minutes to go, assisted by Josh Brown and Jack Norton. Moments later, Triton’s Derek Donley was called for a roughing penalty, allowing Masco’s Joe Griffin to score on a slap shot past Shuman’s right side, assisted by Jared Branin and Alec DiGiorgio to knot things again.
With just over five minutes left to play, the Vikes showed they still had some fight left in them as Wolcik shot a missile past Cardillo’s left side, assisted by Donley, to give Triton the victory.
“We’ve been all right in our third periods,” said Wile. “Even in losses. These third periods are very, very important. To show what they did there, their holes are fixable. We’re steadily on the incline, and it is a slow incline, but we’ve yet to be healthy since our second scrimmage of the season. We’ve got a major virus going through our team.”
Josh Brown, who is battling the virus himself, scored an insurance goal unassisted with a minute left, and the Vikes skated on, retaining second place in the CAL.
“This was a gut check in there,” Wile said of his locker room, which reverberated with cough after cough after the game. “Brown has a temperature and was (sick) on the bench. He comes back for just a solid game. We had six guys in the stands. We went with nine forwards and four defense. I’m not saying that we’re a state championship team right now, but that’s a gut check. That’s a chapter.”
Masco coach Andrew Jackson was unavailable for comment.