By Nick Curcuru
---- — GLOUCESTER— The Rockport hockey team has earned itself a fresh start in the second half of the regular season.
With a 7-1 drubbing of Nashoba Tech Saturday at the Dorothy Talbot Rink, Rockport has now won three straight. More importantly, the Vikings are back to .500 (5-5) for the first time since the second game of the season.
With three straight wins, Rockport is playing its best hockey of the year heading into the season’s second half, and that’s just where the team wants to be.
“We had a tough schedule in the first half and we dropped a few close ones but we want to be playing our best hockey in the second half of the season,” Rockport head coach Derek Papalegis said. “It’s good to take care of business and get back to .500. Our top guys put pucks in the net and we got everybody in the game.”
The Vikings superior talent was on display early scoring four first period goals. Rockport got production up and down the lineup as five players (Conor Douglass, Mike Tupper, Josh Guertin, Alex Amoroso, Jon Ferrante) had multi-point games.
The Commonwealth Athletic Conference leaders got on the board six minutes in when Jon Ferrante put home an Alex Amoroso pass while on a 5-on-3 power play. Just 15 seconds later, still on the power play, Rockport struck again when Josh Guertin scored after making a nice play out of the corner to make it 2-0.
The Vikings essentially put the game away with two goals in 0:79 late in the first period. Mike Foster scored on a Dane Tolstrup centering pass with 1:36 to play in the frame and with just 19 seconds until intermission Conor Douglass slipped home an Alex Amoroso centering pass for his first of three goals on the night and suddenly it’s 4-0 Rockport.
Second period goals from Kyle Nelson and Douglass made it 6-0 heading into the third and Douglass completed the hat trick with a goal early in the final frame to make it 7-0. Nashoba tallied a late goal to spoil the shutout but the final score still signified a Vikings romp.
The Vikings win not only moves them back to .500, it makes them 5-0 in CAC play which means they are in the drivers seat for a conference title and an automatic berth in the tournament.
“It’s nice to dominate in conference play so far,” Papalegis said. “But we still have a few tough games left in conference and we expect them to be different teams the second time around.”
For now Rockport turns it’s attention to the second half schedule, and it doesn’t lighten up. The Vikings will meet Gloucester on Thursday at the Talbot Rink in a battle of Cape Ann teams. Gloucester is one of four Division 2 teams on Rockport’s second half schedule that also includes Medfield, one of the top teams in Division 3.
“It’s good to climb back to .500,” Papalegis said. “It’s kind of a new season now. We still have tough non-leagues on the schedule and a tough one Wednesday against Gloucester. We are starting to find our stride we just have to keep these good habits going.”