STONEHAM, Mass. -- Newburyport's run in Division 2 North is over, and it was a familiar foe that brought down the two-time champions.
Ninth-seeded Masconomet (14-6-2) and head coach Bill Blackwell —who grew up 10 doors down from No. 8 Newburyport (12-5-4) head coach Paul Yameen in Lawrence when they were kids — watched the Clippers take them out twice in the regular season by a combined score of 11-4.
But on Tuesday night at Stoneham Arena in the first round of the Division 2 North, Blackwell and the Chieftains came up big when it mattered most with a 3-2 victory.
“They have been the North champs the past couple of years and I said to my coaching staff that they are not going down easy,” Blackwell said. “We got some good bounces and made some things happen, and we hung on. Believe me we hung on.”
The Chieftains popped in two goals in the first period to take charge of the contest, but what would happen over the next two periods would stun just about any person who studied physics.
The Clippers clanged three or four posts in the game, including a turnaround shot from Cooper Hines with 13:30 left to go in the second. Hines had a wide open net when he was able to send the shot on, but the puck clanged off the right post and darted across the goal line and out to keep the Clippers off the board.
Kris Holmes potted his first of two goals to break the dry spell at 3:43, but Pat Crosby would answer back at 11:09 off a nice feed from Scott Woods from behind the net to push it back to a two-goal game.
Holmes got his second on a strange play to begin the third, when the puck somehow found its way under and through Casey Tudor’s pad, and the puck wasn’t quite sure if it wanted to cross the line, but finally did at 1:13 of the third period.
“One of the coaches said to me ‘You guys could have had four or five goals,’” Blackwell said. “They could have had four or five goals. There were so many loose pucks, but guys missed them. I don’t know how.”
Newburyport came out with three shots on net in their first shift, and then were stymied by David Eidel’s flukie goal that got under the glove of the Clippers’ goalie. Small mistakes like that, which turned into big ones — including a too many men on the ice penalty when the Clippers were trying to pull the goalie with a minute left in regulation — ended the two-year run.
“It just wasn’t our day,” Yameen said. “Sometimes you have to get knocked down to get back up again. I expect we will get back up again.”
TEWKSBURY DOUBLES UP PEABODY
In the other game at Stoneham Arena, No. 6 Tewksbury (15-5-1) kept it’s cool in a fiery 4-2 win over No. 11 Peabody (11-6-4) to advance to the next round of the Div. 2 tournament.
The Tanners had three players ejected in the game and had 11 whistles blown in the third period alone, with several of those matching minors.
Rob Houghton cut into the 3-1 lead with 7:03 remaining in the game for the Tanners. But over the next several minutes, the physical play turned in to whistles, and Tewksbury was able to add an empty-netter from Ryan Doherty in the final minute of play to push the lead back to a two-goal game.
“We need to keep our cool at all times,” Derek Doherty said. “I tell my kids if you retaliate then you are hurting the team.”
Tewksbury dominated the first period and came out on top after the first 15 minutes with a 1-0 lead thanks to a slap shot on the power play from Robert Pruyne.
Peabody tied it up in the second off an improbable tip shot from Mike Chiappini. The Tanners seemed to have some life in period heading into their first tally after a sluggish start to the game, but all of that momentum was taken away a minute later when Dan Ladderbush poked home a goal in traffic.
Peabody barreled in on the breakaway on Nicolas Cunha not once, twice, but three times in the second period to no avail.
The Tanners had several opportunities to pop in goals before the penalty-filled third period, but Cunha was good to stop 16 of the 18 shots headed his way.
“I thought we had some real good chances and we just couldn’t find the goal,” said Peabody head coach Mark Leonard.