By Jim Sullivan
---- — NEWBURYPORT — The defending Cape Ann League champion Triton hockey team battled its own inconsistency against a rebuilding Lynnfield last night, but still managed to squeak out a 3-1 win.
“We’re better than this, and we know it, but we’ve got to show it,” said Vikings coach Drew Wile. “We can’t seem to string it together here. We’ve got a lot of issues to work out. We’re offensively challenged. We knew that coming into the year, but that doesn’t stop the fact that we need to work harder and the work ethic needs to be there. You’ve got to bring your lunch box.”
The first period was all Triton as it came at Pioneers goalie Joe Bassi time and time again until Jake Wood scored his first goal of the season on a text book two-on-one, assisted by Tucker Johnson with a little over five minutes left in the period. Johnson followed that up with his own first goal of the season just over two minutes later on a wrap-around, assisted by Kyle Hillick.
“Obviously the second goal, we’d like to have back,” said Pioneers first-year coach Jon Gardner. “Our 6-foot-5 goalie knows he’s got to close that. Joe is going to bail us out, time and time again.”
The second period saw the Vikings’ inconsistency in full force as they were unable to bury on 11 shots and watched as Pioneer Matt Boehner scored his and his team’s first goal of the season, drawing Triton goalie Devon Shuman out of the net to put the game at 2-1.
The Vikes were able to score again in the top of the third period on what was almost an afterthought goal from center ice by Jared Salmon, assisted by Hillick.
“We’re going to have to follow his lead right now,” Wile said of Salmon. “Because he played well. He’s the toughest kid out there, the hardest worker.”
In the middle of a tough December (0-3, 1 goal scored) Gardner was happy to get his team on the board for the first time.
“It’s going to be a work in progress, but that is finally a nice step,” said Gardner. “That pink elephant is finally off our backs. That goal was something that was keeping me up at night.”
“We had a tough practice yesterday, and I kind of gave it to them,” Gardner said of his players. “They came out a little apprehensive, a little sloppy. (Triton) is a good team. But I’m just happy with our kids’ character. And to be down 2-0 after one (period) and to put yourself in the position to win the game, we were very happy with it.”
“We’ve got Amesbury Saturday night,” Wile said of the road ahead. “They’re a much improved team this year. They’re much better than us right now. Right now, we’re a work in progress. (But) a win is a win. It’s two points, we’ll take it.”