Recap: Newburyport 3, No. 8 Braintree 2 (SO)

HYANNIS, Mass. – Newburyport hockey did much more than advance in Wednesday’s first-round matchup against Braintree in the Cape Cod Freeze Out hosted at the Kennedy Memorial Skating Rink.

The Clippers hung tough with the Wamps through 45 minutes, and then claimed a 2-1 win in a shootout for a 3-2 victory.

“It was only our third game, so we’re still working out some kinks,” Newburyport head coach Paul Yameen said. “Half our team is freshmen and sophomores, so I think we’ll improve as we go on. That was a gutsy win. They outshot us, outplayed us, but we hung tough and I’m proud of them.”

The Clippers (1-0-2) and Wamps (3-1-1) traded goals in each of the first two periods and took 1-1 and 2-2 ties to the room at the intermissions.

Throughout, Newburyport netminder Alex Buckley remained strong, making 28 saves through four periods and stopping shots from four Wamps skaters in five rounds of the shootout.

“He’s a three-year starter, he’s a captain for us,” Yameen said. “We’ve come to expect that, but he came up big for us tonight.”

Although the game counts as a tie in MIAA standings, the shootout determined which team would play on to Thursday’s Freeze Out championship game. Newburyport will face Springfield Cathedral after the Panthers too earned a shoot-out victory over host Barnstable in the nightcap.

Sophomore forward Ben Ventura scored on the Clippers’ first shootout attempt before Braintree’s Tom Mahoney extended it in the third round with perfectly executed stall and wrist shot in front of Buckley. Newburyport defenseman Matt Kelleher scored the clinching goal in the fifth round of the shootout before Buckley made one final save to clinch the win.

It was Kelleher’s second goal of the game after he popped in the Clippers’ second goal of the game in the second period. Timothy Brennan also scored for Newburyport and defenseman Connor Wile chipped in two assists.

David Fasano Jr. and Nick Ward (1G, 1A) tallied goals for Braintree in regulation.