By Jim Sullivan
---- — NEWBURYPORT — The tournament-bound Triton hockey team hosted a team still fighting for its tournament lives in Pentucket last night, and it appears the Sachems will have to keep fighting.
The Vikings (11-5-1 overall, 7-3-1 CAL) took care of business on Senior Night, 4-3, at the Graf Rink.
“We clinched (a tournament berth Tuesday night),” said Triton coach Drew Wile. “And that was an effect I was worried about (tonight). We could have had five goals in the first period. We have a lot to clean up.”
Last night was the second of back-to-back nights for the Vikes, who blew out Gloucester, 7-1, Tuesday to reach the tournament. But the Sachems (6-9-1, 3-8-0) wouldn’t know it as the Vikes took it to them from the first minute, getting off five shots on Pentucket goalie Samantha Bomba in the first four minutes. The puck would find a home a minute later when Jared Salmon flipped it up and over Bomba’s right shoulder unassisted.
Bomba held very strong for the rest of the period, allowing John Orlando to score on Triton goalie Devon Shuman’s right side, assisted by Tom Pingree and Ian Mitchell. The Sachems’ euphoria would be short-lived however, when Tucker Johnson scored a dribbler under Bomba’s skate, assisted by Derek Donley, to enter the first intermission with the 2-1 lead.
Pentucket started the second period off on the power play, and Joe Mangano buried, assisted by Mitchell and Pingree, to knot things at two. Triton regained its lead eight minutes later when Luke Packer scored in a scrum, assisted by Jack Norton.
Things started to get ugly at the tail end of the period when a hit to the head on Mitchell by Donley began a small donnybrook that had to be broken up, resulting in a four-minute major for Donley, and roughing minors for Johnson and Pingree.
Pentucket started the third period out taking advantage of the three-minute power play, tying things up again thanks to an Orlando wrap-around, assisted by Mangano.
The final three minutes of play were wild and wooly until Johnson found his mark with a minute and change left, assisted by Jared Salmon for the win.
“I thought we played well,” said Pentucket coach Bill Burns. “I thought we played well enough to win it. Unfortunately things didn’t go our way. We didn’t get the bounces. We certainly had some opportunities.”
“We gave up three goals,” said Wile. “And that’s not going to fly. We’ve got to get everyone healthy. We’ve got to get a full defense. It’s hard to count on what’s going. But we gutted it out. We went all the way to the end with Pentucket. That’s a Billy Burns coached team. They battle and battle and battle.”
With his Sachems’ backs getting closer and closer to the wall, Burns will make no excuses.
“We have four games left,” said Burns. “We’ve pretty much got to run the table to have a chance to make the tournament this season. So we’re hoping for that. We have to put this evening in our rearview mirror. We have to learn from it.”