By Jim Sullivan
---- — With memories of the slow starts in previous seasons on its collective mind, the Newburyport hockey team let the Cape Ann League and an animated hometown crowd know that things were going to be different in 2012 Saturday night.
The Clippers won their season-opener decisively against Lynnfield 6-0 at Graf Rink.
“I think the last couple of seasons we started out with a loss, so we stressed that we wanted to get off to a good start this year, and I think we did that,” said Clippers coach Paul Yameen. “But at the same time, we can’t get too excited.”
The Clippers got off to a quick start, getting their first shot off 20 seconds in. Five minutes later, Tyler Cusack scored the Clippers’ first goal past Pioneer goalie Joe Bassi’s left skate, assisted by fellow senior co-captain Nick Mombello and Nick Federico.
Newcomer and senior Jason Dylingowski made his Clipper debut one to remember just 13 seconds later, scoring top shelf on Bassi, assisted by Matty Kelleher and Travis Wile, to put Port up 2-0 at the first intermission.
Lynnfield came out strong at the beginning of the second period, but got off only four shots on Clippers goalie, Alex Buckley. None found their target, allowing Mombello to score goal No. 3 on a slap shot assisted by Cusack and sophomore Tyler Therrien. The fourth goal was scored by Travis Wile on a feed from his brother and senior co-captain, Connor.
The Clippers would tack on two more goals in the third period courtesy of talented sophomore Ben Ventura, assisted by Connor Wile and Dylingowski. Travis Wile scored again assisted by Ventura and Dylingowski, while Buckley recorded the shutout.
“I was happy with our defensive play,” said Yameen. “I thought we took away the middle on them pretty good. Our D-zone play was pretty good. We’ve certainly got some work to do, but it is certainly a step in the right direction.”
After taking a loss to Danvers earlier in the week, first-year Pioneers coach Jon Gardner knows his squad has some rough times ahead.
“I warned my guys at the start of the year that we had a murder’s row scheduled (in December),” said Gardner. “But I told them, we’re going to earn our battle scars and then move on in January.
“In my mind, I’m trying to keep the guys positive and tell them that we play everyone twice in the year, and the goal is to have a different story the next time we play them,” continued Gardner. “I’ve got 15 kids that have never played varsity before, so it’s learning on the job. We’ve got a high ceiling. It’s been a tough start. But we’re going to stay positive and keep plugging away.”
His team may have gotten one up on Lynnfield Saturday, but Yameen knows the Pioneers too well and is taking nothing for granted.
“Lynnfield is a team in transition,” said Yameen. “They’ve lost nine good seniors. They’ve got a new coach over there, so I fully expect they will be better the next time around.”