WINTHROP – In an early season Northeastern Conference battle, Winthrop downed No. 20 Marblehead, 3-2, thanks to a hat trick from top point-getter Luke Evangelista and a standout performance from goalie Ryan Skoczylas.
Evangelista’s scoring started early for the Vikings (6-2, 3-0) as five minutes into the first period senior center Sam Yarrow (2 assists) skated around the back of the net and found an open Evangelista, who buried the puck.
The Headers (7-1, 3-1) matched Evangelista goal for goal until his third score of the game sent Larsen Rink into a frenzy with 4:24 remaining in the third period.
“It’s really just going off the fans’ energy,” said Evangelista. “We’re just a big happy family.”
The drama didn’t stop there as the Vikings, nursing a 3-2 lead, were sitting pretty with a 5-on-4 advantage until they were hit with an unsportsmanlike penalty with 1:16 left. Marblehead decided to pull their goalie to give the Headers a man advantage for 19 seconds and then a 6-on-4 advantage for the final 57 seconds.
“We practice that,” said Winthrop coach Dale Dunbar. “You just hope that we execute, it’s a lot to process for young high school kids, but we work on situations all the time so they’re starting to feel more comfortable in their own skin.”
The Vikings did execute, in large part to Skoczylas and his 20 saves, including six in the third period.
“[Skoczylas] carries the team every game, he’s always there and we always can count on him,” said Evangelista. “It’s unbelievable to watch him play, you can argue he’s the best goalie in Division 2.”
For now, the two teams remain tied for first place in the Northeastern Conference North standings with six points apiece. If the two teams keep this pace, the Jan. 30 rematch at Marblehead will likely be meaningful.
Steve Sousa can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.