HAVERHILL — It was the battle for first place in the CAL at the Haverhill Valley Forum Saturday and the winner was Triton, 5-2. The Vikings (3-0) not only took down Amesbury (3-1) convincingly, but grabbed ahold of the league courtesy of one Tucker Johnson.
“It’s the Tucker Johnson show,” Vikings’ coach Drew Wile said of the senior with the oversized personality who had four goals on the night. “Everybody talks about all the other big guns in the league and around the North Shore and he had four goals tonight. He’s a legitimate, top-notch player in the state as a forward.”
And Johnson wasted no time getting on the boards, scoring off Amesbury goalie Evan King just two and a half minutes into the first period with a unassisted shot, up high.
A minute later, Amesbury’s Tabor Smith was called for hitting from behind and Johnson capitalized, this time assisted by Kyle Hillick and Zack D’Agostino, to put the Vikings up 2-0 at the end of the period.
“We spotted them two goals early,” said Indians’ coach Chris Kuchar. “We put ourselves in a 2-0 hole. But the thing I like about our team is that we put ourselves into a hole and we came back.”
The Indians come-back began almost half-way through the second period when John Chamberlain took a feed from Anthony Licciardello directly in front of Triton goalie Devon Shuman and buried it on Shuman’s left side. Triton’s Derek Donley drew a penalty for interference moments later and Amesbury’s Lucas Townsend took advantage with a slap shot goal from the blue line to tie things at 2.
But Johnson wasn’t done and jumped the Vikes back into the lead with a slap shot goal of his own just a minute later to end the second period.
The third period wasn’t a minute old when Townsend was called on a hitting from behind penalty and Johnson swooped in again during a scrum two seconds after that, assisted by D’Agostino.
The Vikings would cap the night with an empty-net goal from Hillick in the final minutes to put Triton on top of the CAL.
“We’re a very young team and we’re going to learn from this,” said Kuchar. “We’re going to learn that we have to play a full three periods. We have to get better. Obviously, we’re disappointed with the loss, but we want to be the better team on Feb. 23, not the better team on Dec. 22 and the kids know that and we’re going to work to get better.”
“The first period, we played very well,” said Wile. “We went up 2-0, so we won the period. (But) we’re inexperienced and immature right now and it showed. The second period, we came back, the first goal, Devon would like to have back. The second was a rocket, but we have to be in better position and I think we can stop both of those goals, I really do. Yeah, we’d like to have the second period back, but for the most part, it was a solid game.”
With his entire third line out on injuries, Wile looks forward to getting a team back that is at full strength.
“I’m a very proud coach of that group inside the locker room,” Wile said. “The kids stood up, they stood tall. Tonight was, even though it’s early in the year, for possession of first. Last year it was wire-to-wire and I don’t see any reason why we can’t do it again this year. But it’s a work in progress everyday, everyday.”