By Conor Walsh
---- — GLOUCESTER-- The Rockport hockey team came into Wednesday’s non-league tilt against Swampscott at the Talbot Rink looking to exact a bit of revenge.
Swampscott quelled a lot of the hype surrounding the Vikings on opening night with a 4-1 win and the Vikings would have liked nothing more than to return the favor.
While Rockport certainly played better than it did on opening night, the results were the same as the Big Blue jumped out to an early two goal lead and maintained their advantage, skating away with another 4-1 win sweeping the season series and moving to 7-1 on the season. Rockport falls to 2-5.
The ebb and flow was back and forth, but Swampscott proved to be the more opportunistic team by making Rockport pay when it had a scoring opportunity. Swampscott also used its speed advantage to create opportunities and pin the Vikings in their own end.
The Vikings started off the game well, dictating play through the first several shifts, but a goal from Swampscott’s Noah Maercklein five minutes into the frame took the wind out of their sails.
From there, Swampscott’s speed in all three zones took over and the Big Blue controlled play for the rest of the period. They made it 2-0 with 3:05 to play in the first when Tyler Peterson gloved an attempted Rockport clear and slipped the puck to Joey Silva. Silva walked in and ripped a shot that deflected off a sprawling Viking defenseman and past Vikings goalie Colby Foster. The goal came after a long shift for Rockport where it struggled to clear its own zone multiple times.
“We definitely had a rhythm in the beginning,” Rockport coach Derek Papelegis said. “We’ve been talking about when things get tough to respond the right way. I thought the guys battled back, but we just couldn’t find the net in the beginning and guys started to get frustrated and we couldn’t dig out of that 2-0 hole.”
The Vikings came out strong in the second and cut the Big Blue lead to 2-1 with 6:13 to go in the frame when Jake O’Maley sprung Conor Douglass on a breakaway when he banked a perfect pass off the boards from his own end. Douglass beat Swampscott goalie Trent Gallagher five-hole for the score.
Rockport’s momentum was short-lived, though, as Nunzio Moretti made it 3-1 Swampscott less than two minutes later. A Chris Carman bomb from the point felled a Vikings defenseman, and an opportunistic Moretti scooped up the puck, put a nice move on Foster and slipped it past the Vikings’ goaltender to put the Big Blue out of reach.
Rockport had its opportunities in the third period when the Big Blue lost their discipline going on the power play with seven minutes to go, a power play that would later turn into a two-man advantage. The Vikings, however, squandered the opportunity picking up a penalty of their own. Off the ensuing faceoff, Ryan Cresta won a loose puck and slipped it across the crease where Maercklein found the net again on a one-timer with five minutes to play.
Throughout the course of the game, the problems that have plagued the Vikings throughout the season came through. The Big Blue were opportunistic, pulling out the lopsided victory despite outshooting the Vikings by only four. But Rockport beat itself. An inability to clear the zone. A lack of offensive rhythm. A struggle moving on from tough plays.
At 2-5 Rockport has some work to do to get back to the .500 mark. Fortunately for the Vikings they are 2-0 in Commonwealth Athletic Conference play, 0-5 out of conference. The team will look to get back into the win column on Saturday when it travels to Nashoba Tech in a CAC matchup.
“We made mistakes and Swampscott put it in the back of net and we couldn’t capitalize on their mistakes,” Papalegis said. “We’re responding the wrong way when things get tough. Coming off the ice, it’s not, ‘Let’s go get it back,’ it’s some guys shutting it down. It’s on me and the other coaches. We’ve got to find a way to dig deep and lift these guys up.”
Swampscott 4, Rockport 1
at Dorothy Talbot Rink, Gloucester
Swampscott 2 1 1 4
Rockport 0 1 0 1
First Period: S, Noah Maercklein (Trevor Massey, Chris Dandreo) 5:18; S, Joey Silva (Tyler Peterson) 11:55.
Second Period: R, Conor Douglass (Jake O’Maley, Kyle Nelson) 8:47; S, Nunzio Moretti (Chris Carman) 10:30.
Third Period: S, Maercklein (Ryan Cresta) 10:21.
Saves: S Trent Gallagher 24; R Colby Foster 25
Records: S 7-1; R 2-5.