---- — The Gloucester hockey team really didn’t have much to gain on Wednesday night against Rockport in the first matchup between the Cape Ann teams in 22 years.
A win over Division 3 Rockport and the Fishermen would have simply taken care of business. A loss, on the other hand, would have been tough to swallow against a team in a lower division.
To put it simply, Gloucester (5-6-1) couldn’t just win Wednesday, it needed to win big.
As it turned out that’s exactly what the Fishermen did in front of a large and raucous crowd at the Dorothy Talbot Rink to the tune of a 7-3 win.
“We knew we weren’t going to win a 3-2 or 2-1 game,” Gloucester senior captain Mike Muniz said. “We couldn’t let them hang around, we needed to take it to them from the start.”
The Fishermen were firing on all cylinders from the start on Wednesday building a 6-1 lead after two periods and held a 42-23 shot advantage for the game. Gloucester moved the puck as well as it had all season long which led to several quality scoring chances while owning the one-on-one battles in corners and in the neutral zone while carrying the physical play throughout.
The rigors of Northeastern Conference and Division 2 play shone through on Wednesday as Gloucester played like a team that had been into deep waters with the best Division 2 has to offer. The Fishermen, who have played a who’s who when it comes to potential Division 2 tournament teams, carried the physical play and that took a toll on the Vikings as periods wore on.
It seemed as Gloucester just had a little more strength to dig the pucks out of corners, a little more zip through the neutral zone and a little more gas in the tank.
By night’s end Gloucester had three players with three points on the night in Pete Mondello (2g, a), Jared Favazza (g, 2a) and Muniz (3a) and two more with a pair of points in Casey Noyes and Matt Lane.
Gloucester head coach Don Lowe was thrilled with what he saw from his team on Wednesday.
“I think the first two periods was the best hockey we played all year,” Lowe said.
“We moved the puck, we crashed the net and we played like a team. Rockport’s a pretty good team but we played a good game.”
Gloucester had plenty of motivation entering Wednesday’s contest.
Not only did the Fishermen not want to drop a contest to its smaller Cape Ann counterpart, it essentially needed a win to get back into striking distance of the .500 mark.
A loss would drop Gloucester’s record to 4-7-1 and would have made it extremely difficult to qualify for the postseason.
Wednesday’s win, however, brings them to within one win over the .500 mark, which is needed to pick up a state tournament berth.
“We talked before the game that it didn’t matter who we were playing, we needed a win to get closer to .500,” Muniz said. “There was a lot of motivation and everything was working, we were passing the puck, working as a team and talking it up on the bench.”
The Fishermen were also hungry for a win against the Vikings because the players on each team know each other.
Living just one town apart, a lot of the Gloucester and Rockport kids played youth hockey together and still get together for the occasional pickup game when the ponds freeze over, and Gloucester wanted nothing more than to have bragging rights over its friends on the other bench.
“We know all the kids on the Rockport team,” Muniz said.
“It was like pond skating with your friends and we wanted to win so bad.”