SALEM — The preseason expectations for the Rockport hockey team may have been at an all-time high.
Having lost just one senior from last season’s 13-win team that reached the Division 3 North semifinals, the feeling around the team was clear: A championship trip to the TD Garden or bust.
By the time the Vikings met with coach Derek Papalegis after Saturday’s season-opener against Swampscott, though, those expectations had been tempered.
The Vikings came crashing back down to earth at Salem State’s Rockett Arena, as the Big Blue dictated play from beginning to end and potted three third-period goals to bury the favored Vikings, 4-1.
”I think our guys might be living in the past a little bit, thinking they can just show up and win on talent alone,” Papalegis said. “We haven’t done that in years past. We’re not talented enough to just show up and expect to win.”
Rockport (0-1-0) gained a reputation as a third-period team last season, often starting slow and building as the game wore on.
Unfortunately for the Vikings, Saturday’s third period broke that mold.
Despite a sluggish start and a slew of turnovers, the Vikings entered the third period tied at one thanks to a Jake O’Maley goal late in the second period.
Once the puck dropped for the final stanza, though, it was all Big Blue. Swampscott (1-0-0) pinned Rockport in its defensive zone and piled on three goals in the game’s final ten minutes to seal the win.
First, with 10 minutes to play, Swampscott’s Chris Carmody picked a Rockport defenseman’s pocket at the top of the circles and cut to the center of the ice and lacing a shot past Viking goalie Colby Foster to put the Big Blue up for good.