By Nick Curcuru
---- — GLOUCESTER— It looked like the Rockport hockey team was well on its way to a win Saturday night against Pentucket at the Talbot Rink.
The Vikings were the superior team over the first 15 minutes dominating play in the first period and taking a 2-0 lead into the break. Then it all came unglued.
Pentucket outscored Rockport 5-2 over the final 30 minutes and came away with a 5-4 win. In the final 30 minutes Rockport (1-2) resorted to some old bad habits with undisciplined play leading to several penalties. The Vikings were hit with eight penalties over the final two periods, and a power play goal from Pentucket late in the third period essentially clinched a Sachems win.
“It’s disappointing,” Rockport head coach Derek Papalegis said. “We got off to a strong start and we couldn’t keep it going. It’s especially disappointing because we made a lot of mental mistakes. Undisciplined play threw us off, just too many selfish penalties.”
Sachems (2-2-1) head coach Bill Burns was quick to credit his players improved play over the final two frames.
“We started slow but in the last two periods we really started forechecking better,” Burns said. “We made them make mistakes in their own end by playing aggressive and our defense did a good job keeping them away from the front of our goal in the last two periods.”
Pentucket’s play over the final two periods was powered by its top line of Ian Mitchell, Tom Pingree and John Orlando. The trio scored all five goals for the Sachems with each player scoring three points.
Mitchell had a hat trick, Orlando had two goals and an assist and Pingree had three helpers.
“We weren’t physical enough with them,” Papalegis said about the Sachems top line. “We let them skate through us time after time. They’re a talented line and they started picking corners on us.”
Ahead 2-0 entering the second frame, it took Pentucket only 19 seconds when Mitchell beat Vikings goalie Colby Foster top shelf with a wrist shot. Four and a half minutes later Mitchell struck again when Brandon Moynihan found him all alone in front of the Vikings goal after a defensive breakdown.
Rockport, however, picked up the play in the second half of the frame and senior captain Conor Douglass gave the Vikings a 3-2 lead when he deflected a Kyle Edmonds shot from the point past Sachems goalie Samantha Bomba, giving the Vikings a one goal lead heading into the third period.
Pentucket took over from there as Orlando tied the score at 3-3 four minutes into the third scoring on a rebound off a Pingree shot. Three minutes later Mitchell completed the hat trick with another well placed wrist shot to put the Sachems up 4-3. Just under a minute later Orlando scored on the power play goal to make it 5-3.
Jake O’Maley scored his second goal of the game with 15 seconds to play and Rockport was even able to put a shot on goal as the final buzzer sounded but Bomba made a glove save to preserve the win.
O’Maley put Rockport up 1-0 five minutes into the game with some nice work in front of the Pentucket goal putting home a Conor Douglass rebound. Two and a half minutes later Mike Tupper scored on a well placed wrist shot to make it 2-0 Vikings.
At 1-2, the Vikings are not off to the start they envisioned as they entered the season with high expectations returning every player but one from last season’s semifinal qualifying team.
Rockport, however, has 15 games to right the ship.
“It’s not the start we wanted but we have time to turn it around,” Papalegis said. “We have things to fix but this is a deep team that’s been there before. Hopefully this was a wake up call for us.”