Newburyport, MA – MassNZ made the drive out to Newburyport for a marquee matchup of top D3 teams: the Hawks of Essex Tech and the Vikings of Triton. The Hawks came into today’s noon matchup ranked 5th and the Vikings were ranked 8th. This game would be critical for better positioning in the Power Rankings. It was also Senior Day for six seniors on the Triton team who were honored pre-game in a nice ceremony with their parents. Once that was wrapped up, you could tell both teams were geared up for this one. Oh, and a quick shoutout to the DJ on the ones and twos for Graf Arena – tossing out Notorious BIG, Avenged Sevenfold, A Tribe Called Quest, Van Halen, Run DMC, OutKast and many other rare pulls. The Graf is rising up our DJ Power Rankings this year!
In the first period, both teams came out firing on all cylinders. Crisp passing and plenty of physicality was at play, although defense ultimately won the day as both teams packed the house and refused to allow second chance opportunities. Essex Tech carried much of the opening possession and put most of their SOG on net in the first half. Triton would push back in the second half and create a number of great looks on their attacking end. Ultimately, both goalies swept out loose pucks in front and it was still 0-0.
In the second period, the scoring got underway in a big way as junior forward Jaydan Vargas scored just 55 seconds into the period by tipping home a shot from the half wall by junior defender Mason Sutcliffe. At this point the Hawks were feeling all the momentum, but the Vikings continued to push back. The early minutes of this frame were marred by penalties and that’s exactly how Triton would get on the board. Six minutes in, sophomore defender Michael Taylor would walk along the blue line and find a wide open junior Luke Sullivan open at the faceoff dot. Sullivan snapped home a beauty to tie things at 1-1. The game would not stay that way for long. Just a minute and 15 seconds later Vargas would steal a puck in the slot and deposit it into the top half of the net to make it 2-1 Hawks. Triton would push back and create a couple of good looks off the rush but senior Garrett White stood tall. It turns out Vargas wasn’t done in this period as a few minutes later he would complete the 12-minute hat trick by getting to the net front and deflecting home a point shot by immovable object Armani Booth. Our score after two was 3-1 Essex Tech.
In the final frame we reverted back to the first period and both teams locked things up defensively. There were still turnovers and plenty of chances around the net but both D cores were able to quickly clear the puck out of harm’s way. Triton was doing everything it could to strike back quickly but the Essex Tech forecheck was relentless and their physicality was a problem. They were so strong on the puck that Triton was forced to use their speed and beat them to the other end. They continued in this push-pull manner until a power play chance with eight minutes left gave Triton a chance to take a timeout and regroup. They would create some nice lateral passing plays but could not get to the net front. With five minutes remaining in the period, Essex Tech called their timeout with the puck at the other end of the ice for a power play. They continued to wear down the Vikings, allowing them to seal off the last few minutes. Triton did not quit and was able to squeeze in a goal coming off a shot by Taylor and a deflection by junior forward Alex Pasquini with 3.8 seconds left on the clock. That would be our final score on the day: Essex Tech takes the win 3-2 over Triton.
- F Jaydan Vargas, Essex Tech
- D Michael Taylor, Triton
- D Armani Booth, Essex Tech