LET THE NEW YEAR BEGIN

Jim Vaiknoras/Staff PhotoNewburyport's Ben Ventura looks to pass in front of Triton's net during last year's Newburyport Bank Hockey Classic. Ventura is off to a hot start this season, having scored 9 goals with 6 assists in just five games.

Now that we’re a few weeks into the season, we’re starting to get a clearer picture of who is set for a big season and who might be in for a cold winter. With most teams off for New Years Day, lets take a moment to look at who has separated themselves from the pack and what could be in store over the next few months.

Top line powering Newburyport hockey

Having lost several standouts to graduation, senior captain Matt Kelleher to injury and sophomore Ben Mirageas to prep school, the Newburyport hockey team came into the season with its fair share of question marks. But so far the Clippers have risen to the challenge, and right now they look poised for another winning season.

The Clippers are 2-1-2 on the season after two weeks, with big wins over Lynnfield and South Windsor, Connecticut, and a pair of 4-4 ties against Division I powers Westford Academy and Acton-Boxboro.

The key for Newburyport has been the stellar play of its top line, particularly senior forward Ben Ventura. Ventura leads the team with 9 goals and 6 assists in five games, highlighted by a four goal outburst against Acton-Boxboro this past Monday.

But he hasn’t been alone, fellow first liners Scott Webster also and Austin Roy have gotten off to great starts too, and head coach Paul Yameen said he believes the trio may be the most productive line in the state so far this season.

“They’ve been putting up some points and working real well together, so we hope that continues,” Yameen said.

Newburyport will face another tough test this Saturday when the Clippers face Masconomet at the Haverhill Valley Forum, and then on Monday they will travel down to Lynn to face St. Mary’s High School for an 8 p.m. start.

Triton wrestling ruling the mat

Triton wrestling entered the season with high expectations, and so far the Vikings have more than lived up to the bill. The team remains undefeated at 5-0, and the team has also turned in a handful of excellent performances in tournament play against some of the top teams in New England.

This past weekend, the Vikings placed 18th out of more than 70 teams at Lowell Holidays, finishing as the top Division III school despite only fielding nine wrestlers out of a possible 14.

Senior Luke Boyle was Triton’s top finisher at the prestigious tournament, winning five matches to place third in the 152-pound tournament while breaking his older brother Mark’s school record for most wins in a career. Boyle now sits at 166 wins overall, and if he continues at the rate he’s going, 200 wins could be a possibility.

Senior Jake Durkin also crossed the 100-win threshold himself recently, and younger brother Jared Durkin has also emerged as a star in the making. Top to bottom, Triton has the makings of a special team, so it will be fun to see how far the Vikings can go as the season goes along.

Newburyport track on a championship chase again

The Newburyport boys track team remains undefeated midway through the regular season, and if things continue the way they’ve gone so far, a fifth straight state championship could be in store for the Clippers.

But the big surprise for Newburyport track has been the girls team’s incredible turnaround. After going winless a year ago, the team is now 5-1 thanks to a massive increase in numbers bolstered by some key additions from the Cape Ann League championship winning cross-country and girls soccer teams.

So far the team’s only loss came against an unbeaten Ipswich squad, and if the Clippers can keep it up, a Cape Ann League Kinney Division title could be well within reach. And after that, who knows?

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