, Salem, MA


February 10, 2014

Slow start costs Chieftains in upset loss to Triton


“We just couldn’t handle the puck much and didn’t use our points at all those first two periods,” said Jackson, whose team trailed by two after 30 minutes. “We finally started to pick it up when we had to play catch up, but (overall) mistakes hurt us. You can’t give up those opportunities and expect to win.”

Masconomet came out for the final stanza with a jump in their skates they hadn’t shown all night, buzzing the Vikings’ cage and peppering goalie Devon Shuman (23 saves) with shots. Jake Esposito finally broke through with 10:25 remaining, going top shelf from the far circle. Mike Castro and captain Joe Griffin earned the assists.

But an attempted clear in the Masconomet zone a little less than six minutes later went awry, allowing the Vikings’ Kyle Hillick to pounce on it and snap a shot past Mitch Nekoroski (15 saves) to restore his team’s two-goal lead at 3-1.

The Chieftains pulled Nekoroski with 1:25 to go, but to no avail.

“It’s a simple game plan when you face a bigger, stronger team: you have to get pucks to the net,” said Triton head coach Drew Wile, whose team (5-9-2) moved up to Division 1 this season and must earn nine of a possible 10 points over its final five games to earn a postseason invitation.

“We tried to match lines with them as best we could. We were able to get up early, which helped. There were a couple of other (CAL) upsets (Saturday); first Saugus, then Lynnfield, so I thought, ‘Why not us, too?’”

Josh Brown blocked a shot in his own end, started a 2-on-1 the other way and scored 9:55 in to give Triton a 1-0 lead. Shea Capodulo’s wrist shot from the left point stayed along the ice and, with Jarrod Guertin screening Nekoroski, found its way into the net for a 2-0 Vikings’ lead after two.

“I liked the fight we showed in the third period, carrying the play. We can build off of that,” said Jackson, whose Chieftains host Pentucket in their final home game Wednesday (7:50 p.m.). “Hopefully we learn from this.”

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