HAVERHILL — One of the hottest teams in the CAL right now is Amesbury.
Heck, maybe even in all of Division 2.
Heading into Saturday’s home game at the Valley Forum, the Redhawks had ripped off an impressive five straight wins, and not just against the slouches of the league, either. The “Patient Zero” for the turnaround was an overtime win over Rockport where senior captain Matt Venturi was the hero, and the team followed with victories over Beverly, and a Lunenberg team that was 10-2-1 at the time.
That, however, was just the beginning.
Lynnfield is regarded highly and is currently ranked No. 7 in Division 3, but Amesbury got a hat-trick from Bodie Marcotte to skate to a surprising 6-4 victory last weekend. Then four days later, the Redhawks pulled off another stunner when — for the first time since the 2015-16 season — they took down Triton, 3-2, to knock off the current No. 8 team in all of Division 3.
And now, we can make it six in a row.
Saturday afternoon, Amesbury put together another dominant performance to race past a shorthanded Pentucket team, 7-3. The Redhawks (8-5-0) are averaging an impressive 4.7 goals per game during this winning streak, which has vaulted the program from outside of the Division 2 playoff picture, all the way up to No. 24 in the latest rankings.
“The team has really come together in the locker room,” said Venturi, who scored a pair of goals. “We’re starting to connect. At the beginning of the season nobody was loving it, we were kind of just going to practice. But now we’re starting to come to practice every day knowing that we’re doing it and keeping it rolling.”
It really has all started coming together.
At the heart of it, Amesbury’s first line of Venturi, Marcotte and Ben Richard have been exceptional. Marcotte, a junior and two-time Daily News All-Star, was leading the area in scoring with 24 points, and added four more on Saturday with a pair of goals and assists. You then have fellow upperclassmen like Joey Duggan, Reece Jezowski and Maddox Leblanc finding their skates, and seniors Cam Abromovitch and Nathan Brown have been staples of the D-core.
But as time passes, the young guns just continue to get better.
Sophomore forward Wes Ackerman had a goal and an assist on Saturday and has turned into a key player, and on defense the Redhawks have three freshmen in Lincoln Kime, Ryan Guertin and Evan Murphy who have improved drastically during the year. Then in net, the Redhawks had a lot of questions coming into the season, but freshman Collin Dyer has answered them with a 2.78 GAA and a pair of recent 30-save performances.
“The young kids are really stepping up,” said Amesbury coach Steve Costa. “Some freshmen are playing a big part of the team, and our goaltending is doing really well. And I think overall, the upperclassmen have really stepped up, too. They want to get back to where we were last year.”
But with all of that being said, it didn’t exactly come easy on Saturday.
Amesbury had plenty of chance during the first period and hit the crossbar twice, but it was Pentucket (3-11-1) taking an early lead. A poor turnover gave Chase Pelletier the puck in essentially a breakaway situation, and the sophomore put on a nifty move to slide the puck home far side and put the Panthers up, 1-0.
Which was a lead that stood for the rest of the first period.
“(Amesbury’s) a real hot team, and their top line is pretty strong,” said Pentucket coach Dan Bly “It was a solid first period for us, we just don’t have the depth right now. We’ve got a couple of guys out. So we had a great first period, and then kind of lost some steam.”
The final 30 minutes were all Amesbury.
The Panthers killed off the last 25 seconds of a penalty to open the second period, but the Redhawks kept play in their zone and Marcotte flicked in the tying goal seconds later. Venturi then scored twice in a 30-second span to open up the lead, and an absolute rocket from Pentucket’s Mike Doucette was matched on the other end by Marcotte’s second of the game to make it 4-2 heading into the third.
“We just had to realize that they weren’t pressuring us down low, and we had to take all of the ice that we could get,” said Venturi.
Richard then opened the third with a goal off a great feed from Ackerman, who then was rewarded with a similar great pass from Kime to make it 6-2. Freshman Sam Escobar got one back for the Panthers with seven minutes left, but a fellow rookie in Guertin had the answer on the other end minutes later.
Looking ahead, Pentucket will have to regroup before traveling to play a strong Newburyport team on Wednesday. Amesbury, meanwhile, will look to make it seven in a row when it travels to play North Reading the same night.
Amesbury 7, Pentucket 3
Pentucket (3-11-1): 1 1 1 — 3
Amesbury (8-5-0): 0 4 3 — 7
Goals: A — Matt Venturi 2, Bodie Marcotte 2, Ben Richard, Wes Ackerman, Ryan Guertin; P — Chase Pelletier, Mike Doucette, Sam Escobar
Assists: A — Joey Duggan 3, Lincoln Kime 2, Marcotte 2, Evan Murphy 2, Ackerman, Nathan Brown, Brady Coburn; P — Nick Kutcher
Saves: A — Collin Dyer, Vincenzo Foster; P — Josh Yoon