---- — NEWBURYPORT -- The Pentucket hockey team ended its season on a low note, dropping a disastrous game to Bishop Fenwick, 5-2, in the Doyle Division championship of the 18th annual Newburyport Bank Classic yesterday.
That loss was marred with serious ugliness as a brawl at the tail end of the second period saw four players ejected from the game, and some of Newburyport’s finest made a house call to the Graf Rink.
“In my mind, that was the worst piece of officiating I’ve ever seen,” said Sachems coach Bill Burns. “It’s a new low for Division 2. I don’t know what the deal is. I don’t know what has to change, but we’ve got to get together as coaches, and we’ve got to speak to somebody about getting a better officiating body, because this just isn’t working out.”
The first period of the game was a wash with both defenses anchored by Sachems goalie Sam Bomba and the Crusaders’ Pat O’Leary. They both kept things scoreless.
The brutal second period began with an ugly hit from Sachems forward Ian Mitchell five minutes in. He was ejected from the game for a hit from behind, followed by a slashing call on teammate Tom Pingree. Bishop Fenwick (4-16-2) kept up with the hits when Chris Napolitano and Mark Todisco went to the box for roughing calls. But the Crusaders made out the best with a 4-on-3 advantage allowing Mike Napolitano to find a hole in Bomba’s wall, assisted by P.J.Usaliss and Drew Thibodeau. Pentucket (9-11-1) tied things up five minutes later when John Orlando crashed the net, assisted by Pingree and Bob Barry.
Things went from bad to worse with a minute and half to go in the period when a scoring chance turned into a full-on brawl behind the Pentucket net. When the dust settled, Pentucket’s Mike Kutcher and Bishop Fenwick’s Mike and Chris Napolitano were all ejected from the game, as police back-up arrived to keep things from escalating in the locker rooms.
Pentucket gained the lead when play resumed in the third period, when Orlando dumped it in under O’Leary’s skates, assisted by Pingree. But the Crusaders kept pace when Dylan Maida scored 28 seconds later.
Bishop Fenwick got the go ahead goal at the nine and a half mark when Thibodeau brushed the puck past Bomba’s left skate, assisted by Nick Coccolutto. The Crusaders added a little insurance three minutes later when Coccoluto hit the mark, assisted by Thibodeau. A little more than 30 seconds after that, Bishop Fenwick added goal number five, courtesy of Nick Finan and Thibodeau.
The end of the game was marred by another quick altercation that saw yet another Crusader tossed out as the season came to a tarnished close for both teams.
“It’s been a tough season,” said Crusaders coach Dan Lynch. “That might explain some of the roughness and the chippiness of that game. It’s been a bit frustrating at times.”
The game’s chaos also undermined what was the last varsity contest for the Pentucket seniors, some of whom have been playing since they were freshmen.
“I just want to take my hat off to my seniors,” said Burns, once he had a moment to collect himself. “From Sam Bomba to Tommy Pingree to Ian Mitchell. I just can’t say enough about them, and I just want to wish them all the best in the future.”