By Jim Sullivan
---- — NEWBURYPORT — They came so close, but that only counts in certain things.
The Amesbury hockey (8-10-2) team needed just one more victory to make the state tournament at the 18th annual Newburyport Bank Classic last night, but unfortunately for the Indians, that never materialized as visiting Hudson (7-9-4) ended their season with one brutal period 7-2.
“We did come out unprepared, I’ll take responsibility for that,” said Indians coach Chris Kuchar. “We didn’t stress too much the importance of (this game). They knew what was at stake and to be down 6-0 in the first (period), and to come back and go 2-1 the rest of the way, really speaks to the resiliency and the character of the kids. Being down that early, they kept coming back, shift after shift.”
The Hawks began feeding on the Indians just 35 seconds into the fateful first period when John Dutney shot it past Amesbury goalie Jeff Bucyk’s right skate, assisted by Jeff Hamelin. Hudson did it again 30 seconds later, this time past Bucyk’s left skate, courtesy of Zach Chartrand and assisted by Kyle Sawyer.
Less than a minute later, Bucyk was popped again, this time by Shaun Vasselin, assisted by Sawyer and Chartrand. Bucyk then found himself removed from the net in favor of Evan King, but things would not get much better for Amesbury.
Dutney scored goal No. 4 a minute and a half later, assisted by Hamelin, and the Indians were down 4-0 before four minutes were played.
The leaking continued in the first, as Hudson tacked on two more goals before Amesbury could even get going.
King held the fort in the second period, but faltered once again early on in the third, allowing one more goal. He was replaced by freshman Jake Harlow, who would watch as Justin Irving scored Amesbury’s first goal of the night on goalie Shane Barry, assisted by Ben Clifford and Tyler Paquette.
“He’s a senior getting his first varsity goal in his last varsity game,” Kuchar said of Irving. “I’m real happy for him.”
Travis Motsis scored the Indians’ second goal of the night with two and a half minutes to go, assisted by Clifford and Irving. That would be all she wrote for the season.
“I think that, after some of the wins we had this year, Amesbury is back,” Kuchar said after he and his players had a moment to reflect. “We have a real young hockey team. A lot of our kids just got a taste of varsity hockey for the first time.”
At the end of his third season as Indians head coach, Kuchar thanked each of his seniors individually and says the Amesbury system has a lot to thank them for as well.
“Our seniors that are here, they’ve seen the 1-19 season,” Kuchar said. “They helped to build the program back to where it is.
“I’m proud to be the coach here,” concluded Kuchar. “I’m proud to know that Amesbury is back on the map. The end result wasn’t what we wanted it to be. But honestly, who thought we’d be this far in our third year?”