READING ¬— The Newburyport hockey team snapped a three-game winless streak Saturday evening, looking more like the defending state champs in an 8-3 victory over North Reading. But to hear the Clippers' coach Paul Yameen tell it, his team still has a long way to go.
"I thought we played sloppy, to tell you the truth," Yameen said after the game, his defending champions headed for the mid-season at 4-2-1. "I thought we played in spurts. We need to move the puck better. I thought we played hard, but I thought we played sloppy at times. We need to play better than that."
The Clippers seemed to play just fine as far as North Reading was concerned. Taking advantage of the Hornets' first penalty call (Nick Pascucci for tripping), Cam Roy scored the Clippers' first goal with a shot over goalie Mike Rogers' right shoulder. Derek Freeman and Kyle McElroy were credited with assists. That goal was shortly followed by another Hornets' penalty (Chris Leslie, also for tripping), which allowed Clipper forward Gaven LaValley to score, assisted by Billy Boudreau and Connor Wile.
The beginning of the second period saw LaValley lighting the lamp again, this time assisted by McElroy and Sean Hickman. Twenty-two seconds later, Cam Knight scored the Hornets' first goal assisted by Tom Potter. The Clippers answered less than two minutes later with a goal from Boudreau, assisted by McElroy and Roy. McElroy scored goal No. 5 with an unassisted breakaway all the way from his blue line.
The third period saw the Clippers replace goalie Anthony Federico with freshman Alex Buckley and the Hornets' goalie Rogers was replaced with another freshman, Ben Harrow. Harrow allowed two quick goals, one by Ryan Cutter assisted by Freeman and Roy and the second by McElroy, assisted by Hickman. Cutter scored again, this time assisted by Freeman and McElroy. The Hornets put up something of a rally in the game's last six minutes with goals by Eric Sokolski, assisted by Pascucci, and Pascucci assisted by Sokolski and John Gravallese.
"Newburyport's the Division 2 defending state champion," said Hornets first-year coach John Giuliotti. "They've got a quality lineup, top to bottom. A couple of things didn't go our way early and we dug ourselves into a hole. There was a lot of focus that was lost, and we never really got back on track. We were kind of playing catch-up for the rest of the game. But you tip your hat to Newburyport."
Yameen was comforted by the fact that his team snapped its winless streak.
"We're happy with the win and we need to play better," said Yameen. "We'll take the (win). (But) we've got a lot of work to do. I went and saw Lynnfield play (on Saturday) and they're a good team. We've certainly got to play better than we did to beat Lynnfield. So, we'll get back after it tomorrow. Hopefully we can tighten things up a little bit and have a better effort against Lynnfield."