NEWBURYPORT — Lightning struck thrice last night at the Graf Rink.
Not only did the Newburyport Clippers (8-6-1) avenge an early-season loss to the North Reading Hornets (7-9-1), but senior forward Derek McCoy recorded his 100th career point, and sophomore Kyle McElroy notched a hat trick in the Clipper's 5-2 victory.
Clipper coach Paul Yameen is cognizant of what all three achievements mean.
"McElroy was definitely our MVP today, he just had a stand-out game," stated Yameen. "But McCoy deserves all the glory."
After coming off a big win over a strong Gloucester squad Saturday, the Clippers looked to continue their success by getting off to a fast start.
However, it was the Hornets who drew first blood as Derek Marenholz and Eric Sokolski combined on an assist to junior Aaron Semiao at 9:49 in the first.
Not to be outdone, the Clippers answered right back as forward Collin Cusack found a cutting McElroy at 8:26. With the Clippers owning the majority of the first-period action, it was an uncontested North Reading goal at 2:06 left in the period by Frederick Hein (assisted by Semiao and Timothy McAuliffe) that seemed to take some wind out of the Clippers' sail.
With a 2-1 deficit at the end of one, the Clippers knew the up-hill battle would be difficult, but as the second period began, it was clear the tide was about to turn in their favor.
Before the Hornets knew what the buzz was all about, the Clippers stormed out of the gate and knotted the score at 2-2 at the 13:42 mark thanks to nice passing by Cusack and McElroy finding junior Kevin Holmes for the sweet finish. With the momentum suddenly in Newburyport's favor, the Clipper attack quickly manifested into a full-on offensive barrage, leaving the Hornets defense quizzical.
As the game became testier, the more aggressive style seemed to spur the Clippers along. At 7:22, McElroy found the back of the goal for the second time off of quick thinking and nice delivery from crafty forwards Cusack and Holmes.
Unsatisfied with their abrupt comeback and 3-2 lead, the tandem of McCoy and Derek Freeman recognized an open Gaven LaValley who weaved and netted the team's fourth goal at 2:21, thus finishing the period.
From that point, a determined Clipper defense shunned any thought of a Hornets rally, and once William Eiserman and the familiar Collin Cusack discovered a flying McElroy at 8:59, the defenseman found the top left shelf, a hat trick, and a lead the Hornets just couldn't dissipate.
"We've been playing well for a couple weeks now," explained Yameen. "Any win's a good win, and whether we're beating a local powerhouse in Gloucester or beating a tough team in North Reading, they all feel good.
"I thought we played well in all three zones, and you have to do that against this team because they transition the puck real well," said Yameen. "They like to transition in the middle of the ice, and I think we did a good job of clogging that area and keeping them from doing what they do best."
With the team hitting their stride, McCoy knows that the team is starting to hit on all cylinders.
"As the year progresses, the team hits a stride and everyone really starts to buy into the system," exclaimed McCoy. "Everybody's starting to gel right now; we're all hard workers, we get along great, and I think we have the type of team and the type of attitude that it takes to make a push and go far into the tournament."