THE MELROSE High boy’s hockey team fell to Newburyport, 6-0, in the first round of the MIAA Div. 2 playoffs on March 1. (photo by Raj Das,


Newburyport proves a tough foe in 6-0 loss


NEWBURYPORT—The Melrose High boy’s hockey team saw their playoff run end in the opening round of the MIAA Div. 2 playoffs on Wednesday, March 1 at the Henry Graf Rink in Newburyport.

Melrose drew the No. 27 seed and was faced against a tough No. 6 Newburyport (10-9-3) and subsequently fell, 6-0, to end their season. Melrose finishes at 5-13-3, a clear improvement from last season, while now having qualified for playoffs two seasons in a row.

Despite the loss, Melrose certainly held their own against the Clippers for the first 20 minutes of the night, keeping it to a scoreless draw until just before the end of the first when Clipper Ryan Philben found the net to make it a 1-0 game. Newburyport goalie Jamie Brooks would earn a shutout at the net and there were six different goal-scorers for the Clippers, keeping Melrose defense and sophomore goalie Matt Fuccione busy all night.

But Melrose continued to play evenly with Newburyport into the second. Towards the end of the period Newburyport was called on two penalties (interference, tripping) that gave Melrose a 5-3 on ice advantage. But Melrose didn’t capitalize on it thanks in part to the heavy work of Clipper defense.

Newburyport’s Braeden Currant would make it a 2-0 game in the second and Will Palermino brought it to 3-0 and the end of the second, leaving Melrose heading to the lockers to regroup. Losing the 5-3 penalty advantage seemed to set a tone for the rest of the game.

“We knew they [Newburyport] were very physical and strong, plus they were top heavy with many older kids. We thought if we can hold them to 1 goal early then score a goal, we could have get them chasing our speed. But didn’t happen,” said Melrose head coach Joe Ciccarello after the game. “We had a real good defensive game plan that worked in the first period. We switched to be more aggressive in the 2nd period to increase our chances to score. We had some really good looks, just couldn’t put the puck in.”

Newburyport would score thrice more in the final frame, off of shots from Charlie Forrest, Max Puleo and Jack Sullivan for a final 6-0 shutout.

At press time, Newburyport went on to beat No. 11 Plymouth South in double overtime and will battle Canton in “Sweet 16” play.

“Once we let that third goal in, I could feel the air letting out, we had some chances on the 5-3, but once again couldn’t score,” says Ciccarello on his team’s effort. “Then our confidence was shot. We had to keep them under two goals.”

For Melrose, there is a chance for their returning starters to learn from the game for next season. They return many of them, including a large amount of juniors. Now they have a chance to bring playoff experience to the ice next season.

“I’m glad to have seen improvement this year and I like the work ethic of this group, who are very committed,” says the coach. “All of them are top quality kids. I can’t wait to get started this summer with workouts. Our goal for next season and every “next” season is to be better than the last.”

Meanwhile, the coach salutes his hardworking seniors, capt. Joey O’Keefe, asst. capt. Pat Cotter, capt. Jason Pino, Brendan Morris, Tom Waden and capt. Joey Zarella.

“I cannot say enough about them,” he says. “I called them the pioneers to getting Melrose back to being Hockeytown again. We will win in the future, I’m sure of it. I want them to come back and feel like this program is always home to them. I’m grateful for their leadership, dedication, and care to program and to me. I’m forever thankful.”