Over its last 11 games, the Rockport hockey team has surged into the state tournament with eight wins and only two losses in that span.
Both of those losses, however, have come at the hands of Everett. The scrappy Crimson Tide proved to be the more opportunistic team on Saturday night at the Talbot Rink with a 4-2 win, sweeping the season series with the Vikings.
The Vikings move to 9-6-3 on the season with two regular season games remaining. They clinched their first state tournament berth since 2013 with a forfeit win over East Boston last week.
Rockport head coach Kyle Nelson could not fault his team's effort in Saturday's loss, but the team had its chances to take control of the game.
"It was a lot like the first time we played them," Nelson said. "I thought we outskated them, we had more shots, but we didn't bury our chances and they did."
Rockport held a 27-18 edge in shots on goal, but Crimson Tide netminder Derek Schovanec had an outstanding night, stopping 26 shots and making sure Rockport never gained too much momentum.
"(Schovanec) has given us trouble this season," Nelson said. "We were never able to solve him and we had chances to."
In an evenly played first period, Everett was able to jump out to a lead as Brendan Currie was sprung free on a breakaway and tucked in a backhand shot inside the right post to make it 1-0, where it stood into the first intermission.
Rockport came back to tie the score at 1:08 of the second frame when Andrew Guelli broke in all alone while shorthanded after a nice face-off win in the neutral zone and he put a wrist shot inside the right post to make it 1-1.
The Vikings' momentum, however, would not even last 90 seconds. While still on the power play, Everett's Maxwell Brown turned in a great individual effort, weaving through the neutral zone and the offensive zone before scoring on a wrist shot to make it 2-1.
The backbreaking goal for Rockport came in the final 10 seconds of the middle frame. The Vikings pushed for the tying score, dominating play over the final half of the second period. But Schovanec was able to make a few big stops and Currie scored on the other end with just six seconds left in the period to make it 3-1 Everett after two.
"We were playing well and dominating possession but you have to play to the horn," Nelson said. "After we went down 2-1, we were preaching on the bench that the next one has to be us. We pushed for it but Everett made a nice play at the end of the period."
Rockport continued to play well in the third, but Everett again took advantage of its chance as Brown added his second goal of the game on the power play with under five minutes to go.
Matt Connelly found the back of the net for Rockport to make it 4-2, but it came with only 1.4 seconds to go.
Rockport has two more regular season games with hopes of improving its Division 3 North postseason standing. The Vikings travel to Essex Tech on Wednesday (6:30 p.m.) and travel to Hamilton-Wenham on Saturday (7 p.m.).
Everett 4, Rockport 1
at Dorothy Talbot Rink, Gloucester
Everett 1 2 1| 4
Rockport 0 1 0| 1
1st Period: E, Brendan Currie (Dante Massuci) 9:36.
2nd Period: R, Andrew Guelli (un.) shg, 1:08; E, Maxwell Brown (Jake Simpson) ppg, 2:31; E, Currie (Massuci) 14:54.
3rd period: E, Brown (Simpson) ppg, 11:32; R, Matt Connelly (Luke Simpson) 14:59.
Saves: E, Derek Schovanec 26; R, Walker Knowles 14.
Records: E, 11-4-1; R, 9-6-3.