NEWBURYPORT — Not much went right for the Newburyport boys hockey team when it traveled down to play St. Mary’s back in December.
It was only the second game of the season, the Clippers were in the early stages of an illness running through the locker room, and a talented St. Mary’s group was fresh off a run to the Division 1 Round of 16 a year ago. Which ended up showing itself on the ice, as the Spartans — who play in the lauded Catholic Conference — blanked their visitors, 4-0.
But thankfully for the Clippers, the two teams were scheduled to meet again.
That rematch took place Saturday afternoon at The Graf, and it was evident from puck drop that Newburyport was itching to dish out some revenge. It was a hard-hitting, physical game with 12 combined penalties, but after 45 minutes of hockey followed by a five-minute overtime, the two teams were forced to settle for a 2-2 tie.
“That’s the team we’ve been waiting for the past couple of weeks,” said Newburyport coach Paul Yameen. “We’ve always thought that when we play that type of style, we’re dangerous. We have to bring that style every game.”
Getting a point against a team like St. Mary’s (9-1-3) is always a positive.
And for Newburyport (5-5-2), their performance in this highly-anticipated rematch compared to that first game was emblematic of its season. After a tough stretch to start the year, the Clippers have ripped off four wins over their last six and now added Saturday’s solid tie.
That improvement showcased itself right away.
Newburyport came out hitting anything wearing blue and gold, and just three minutes in took a 1-0 lead off a goal from Charlie Forrest. A few minutes later, the Clippers found themselves on a 5-on-3 and it was Forrest again lighting the lamp. The senior took a feed from fellow defenseman Max Puleo, and fired a rocket from the blue line that took a deflection off a St. Mary’s player and into the back of the net to make it 2-0.
“That’s a part of our game,” said Yameen. “And when we bring that type of physicality, team’s like (St. Mary’s) will have a tough time against us. I think we’re clearly a bigger, stronger team than them, so we have to use that to our advantage.”
But the hot start didn’t last for the Clippers.
Immediately after Forrest’s second goal, St. Mary’s responded with a short-hander while it was still a 5-on-4. Finn Racki came away with a turnover that sparked a 2-on-1, then dished a pretty pass to Benjamin Fry who buried it to make it a 2-1 game. It would stay that way until midway through the second period, when this time on a power play the Spartans tied it up on a goal from Cam McGonagle.
Both teams traded time in the penalty box during the third, and had some solid chances on the man advantage.
Zach McHugh, Kane Brennan and Will Palermino nearly gave the Clippers the lead, and defenseman Ryan Philbin saw a rocket from the blue line get turned away nicely by St. Mary’s goalie Patrick Babineau. Similarly, Jamie Brooks had another strong game in net for the Clippers, with Puleo, Philbin, Forrest and Cam Caponigro playing well in front of him.
“I thought both goalies played really well,” said Yameen. “I thought Jamie made some big ones, I thought their guy made some big ones. So, great hockey game, great atmosphere, it was just too bad because I thought we deserved to win.”
Newburyport 2, St. Mary’s 2
St. Mary’s (9-1-3): 1 1 0 — 2
Newburyport (5-5-2): 2 0 0 — 2
Goals: N — Charlie Forrest 2; SM — Benjamin Fry, Cam McGonagle
Assists: N — Zach McHugh, Max Puleo, Tristan Joyce; SM — Fry, Marc Hilton, Finn Racki
Saves: N — Jamie Brooks 28; SM — Patrick Babineau 25