The Newburyport hockey team’s first Cape Ann League title in Paul Yameen’s 10 years as coach does not figure to offer much suspense.
The Clippers (7-1-4 overall, 6-0-1 CAL) sit five points ahead of each of the next best teams in the league, Triton (4-3-0 CAL) and North Reading (4-3-0). Each team has five games remaining on its league schedule.
Under Yameen and assistant Jed Beauparlant, Newburyport has always been a team more concerned with its performance in the state tournament than league titles, and that has never been the case more than this season. The CAL lost perennial top-tier teams Wilmington and North Andover in the last two seasons, and Masconomet figures to follow next season. Longtime Lynnfield coach Vin Mirasolo also left the CAL this season to take a head coaching job at Division 1 Melrose, leaving Lynnfield as another struggling program in a shrinking league.
All year, Yameen has been making his case for Newburyport to disband from the CAL and become an independent team in Division 1, so he can’t exactly take a victory lap now that his team is on the precipice of its first CAL title in more than 10 years.
“We’ve worked hard to get where we are,” Yameen said. “That being said, we need to get better. Our inconsistency at times could haunt us. But ... a Cape Ann League title is certainly something we’d like to grab this year.”
The Clippers have outscored CAL opponents 24-5 in seven games. With two victories over Triton to their record, they are expected to finish the league schedule with an unbeaten record.
However, one would expect going undefeated in league play is pretty low on Yameen’s list or priorities this season. More likely, Newburyport’s finish in the state tournament is paramount.
Yameen made a name for himself as one of the top coaches in the state in 2009 and 2010, when his Clippers went 9-1 in the state tournament over two seasons, earning one Division 2 state championship and two Division 2 North sectional titles.