By Conor Walsh
---- — GLOUCESTER – Each bench at Gloucester’s Talbot Rink is decorated the same way.
Behind each bench, a large vertical Gloucester hockey sign hangs. Flanking each bench, a similar, horizontal Rockport sign.
Naturally, with each team sharing the same home rink, a rivalry has built up between the two programs.
Neither team has had much in the way of bragging rights, though, as the two teams hadn’t met since 1991. Until last night.
And after a heated 45 minutes, Gloucester skated away with clear ownership of “The Tank” with a resounding 7-3 win over the Vikings.
“I’ve been trying to get a game with these guys for a while and we were lucky enough to get it this year,” Rockport coach Derek Papalegis said. “These guys have all played together. Guys had been talking it up on Facebook and we’ve had it circled for a while, and unfortunately, we didn’t show up to play.”
It didn’t take long for Gloucester to establish itself as the top dog last night. The Fishermen held a clear size advantage over Rockport, and coupled their grittiness with a speedy cycle in the offensive zone.
By the time Alex Webb got the Fishermen on the board 2:29 into the first period, there was a feeling that the floodgates were just waiting to be opened.
They finally did in the second period. With Gloucester up 2-0 after Pete Mondello picked a corner late in the first, the Fishermen upped their intensity in the second.
Third-liner Jerry Ciaramitaro banged home a rebound in a scrum out front just 1:40 into the second period to extend the lead to three.
Midway through the period, Casey Noyes converted a Matt Lane feed to make it 4-0. Thirty five seconds later, a Jared Favazza power play blast from the top of the circles made it 5-0. Not long after, Mondello added his second -- this one on the power play -- to make it 6-0.
Needless to say, the Fishermen found a way to deflate Rockport in front of their respective home crowds.
“I thought the whole team played well, played like a team,” Gloucester coach Don Lowe said. “We had 20 shots on goal in the second, couple of power play goals. They didn’t want to lose to Rockport and have been hearing all year how good Rockport was. Rockport is a good, well-coached team, but we took it to them tonight.”
Rockport pushed to climb back into the game, getting a late second-period goal from Josh Guertin and third-period tallies from Jake O’Maley and Alex Amoroso. There was ultimately very little that the Vikings could do last night.
Gloucester played some of its best hockey of the year, dominating all three zones. The Fishermen played physical but stayed out of the penalty box. They relied on their speed to wear the Vikings down and transition quickly from their defensive end, and used that speed to set up shop in the offensive zone all night. And when it mattered, they found a way to get seven goals past Rockport goalie Colby Foster (35 saves).
Mondello led the way with two goals and an assist, while Favazza (one goal, two assists) and defenseman Mike Muniz (three assists) also notched three points.
Noyes finished with two goals after adding a third-period tally, Lane assisting on each.
The same couldn’t be said for Rockport (5-6). For a team that has established itself as a power in the generally weak Commonwealth Athletic Conference, non-league games are generally a true barometer.
And against a Division 2 opponent in Gloucester that’s gone through the NEC North gauntlet already, Rockport’s inexperience against top opponents showed through.
Gloucester was able to neutralize Rockport’s top scorers, Conor Douglass and Kyle Tupper, and keep the rest of the Vikings’ top-six forwards away from the danger areas.
“We didn’t show up to play,” Papalegis said. “We have a league schedule that allows us to not play our best and get out a win. We had a three-game winning streak and the guys got complacent. I think our guys were intimidated. I think we actually match up well with Gloucester, we’ve seen them play a lot and we have some talented players, but our top line was nonexistent tonight. Our guys who we’ve relied on all year didn’t really bring their A game.”
As Gloucester (5-6-1) continues to battle back toward the .500, it can rest easy in knowing it’s remained atop the Cape Ann power rankings.
For Rockport, it’s back to the drawing board.
“It’s mental stuff,” Papalegis said. “It’s not Xs and Os. We have 13 seniors, and it could be a long season for them if they don’t play up to their potential. These seniors just have to step up and be leadeers. Lucky, we have some season left to do that, but it’s getting to be crunch time.”
Gloucester 7, Rockport 3
at Talbot Rink, Gloucester
Rockport 0 1 2 3
Gloucester 2 4 1 7
First period: G, Alex Webb (un), 2:29; G, Pete Mondello (Mike Muniz), 13:17.
Second period: G, Jerry Ciaramitaro (Jared Favazza, Eddie Mahoney), 1:40; G, Casey Noyes (Matt Lane), 8:06; G, Favazza (Mondello, Muniz) PPG, 8:41; G, Mondello (Favazza, Muniz) PPG, 11:40; R, Josh Guertin (Conor Douglass), 12:40.
Third period: G, Noyes (Lane), 4:26; R, Jake O’Maley (Jonathan Ferrante), 6:41; R, Alex Amoroso (Kyle Nelson, Jon Tucker), 11:30.
Saves: R Colby Foster 35; G Owen Parisi 20.
Records: R 5-6; G 5-6-1.