By Jim Sullivan
---- — NEWBURYPORT — After tying Canton 2-2 Saturday night, the Newburyport hockey team took on Matignon looking to roll into this year’s state tournament. The wheels looked good as the Clippers shut the Warriors out 4-0 in the opening round of the 18th annual Newburyport Bank Classic.
The Clippers will face North Andover (8-13-0) in the championship game in the Bresnahan Division of the Newburyport Bank Tournament Thursday at 7 p.m.
“We want to be playing well going in the state tournament, but I don’t think we played that great,” said Newburyport coach Paul Yameen. “That’s not going to be good enough for the state tournament.”
With a home crowd better suited for the state tourney than the opening round of the 18th annual Newburyport Bank Classic, the Clippers (11-3-5) began their senior night on the defensive as the Warriors came out like their namesakes, outshooting Newburyport 2-1. But no shots found a home, and the first period ended scoreless.
“It shouldn’t be that way,” Yameen said of the Clippers’ lackadaisical first period. “This is the end of the season. It’s time to sharpen things up, and I didn’t see that.”
The second period went back and forth for the first five minutes until Clipper Nate Hickman came off a penalty kill and scored past Matignon goalie Shane Mason’s right side from the blue line, assisted by Connor Wile.
Newburyport stuck again two minutes later when Ben Ventura crashed the net, assisted by Matty Kelleher, and just 10 seconds later, the Clippers did it again thanks to Jayson Dylingowski in a scrum assisted by Tyson Gudaitis, and suddenly, the Warriors were in big trouble.
Matignon (7-10-3) started the third period in even worse shape as Connor Wile scored on the power play assisted by Ventura, to give Port the four-all advantage as Clipper goalie Alex Buckley recorded his fifth shutout of the season.
“Obviously he’s been a bright spot for us all year,” Yameen said of his goaltender. “You can’t ask any more from him. It’s the guys in front of him that really need to stay consistent and stay hard for three whole periods.”
With last night’s loss, Matignon now finds its tournament hopes dashed.
“It’s a really tough pill to swallow, but we’re going to try our best to rebound on Thursday,” said Matignon coach Gus Means. “I actually thought we outplayed them in the first period. But they hung tough and then in the second period, they took advantage of a couple of our mistakes and got the momentum. They owned us from that point on.”