By Dan Doyon
January 10. 2015 5:53PM
DOVER — The first two wins of the week were more important because of the standings, but the York High School boys hockey team continued playing its best stretch of the season on Saturday against Marshwood/Traip.
And Derek Neal furthered his torrid scoring pace.
The senior forward netted a natural hat trick in the first period, and finished the game with five goals and an assist in Class B York’s 8-3 Western Maine victory over Class A Marshwood/Traip inside Dover Ice Arena. Neal finished the week with 14 points, and now has 26 goals and 20 assists with the second half of the season remaining for York (6-3).
“I’m feeling pretty good about (the season); I’ve been trying to work hard on my defense back in the zone and cover my position more,” Neal said. “We’ve been playing real well as a team, everyone is moving the puck well and everybody has been doing the right things for the most part, and it’s been showing.”
After a 10-8 loss to Class A Noble/Wells last Saturday, York began the week with a 6-0 win over Greely on Monday and followed that with Wednesday’s 6-3 victory against Yarmouth.
“This was a tough game for us because we were coming off a couple of games that were high-energy, very intense games, especially against Yarmouth; we came out flying in the first period,” York coach Mike Vessey said. “It is emotionally tough to get up for a game after a couple of big games like that.”
Neal’s wraparound goal off the skate of Marshwood/Traip goalie Alex Weeks (21 saves) gave the Wildcats a 1-0 lead nearly four minutes of the game, as Brendan Carney had the assist. Neal scored a power-play goal and then gave the Wildcats a 3-0 lead late in the first on Adam Jannetti’s assist.
The Hawks (1-6) had a glimmer of hope midway through second period when John Lyman found Troy Stevens for a goal and Nick Barrett beat York freshman Keenan Gamache to slice the lead to 3-2. Gamache made 19 saves in his third start of the season in relief of starting goalie Eric Lindbohm; he also started in York’s 7-1 win over the Hawks last month.
Neal responded with a goal one minute later, and Colin Palmer, Neal and Thomas Carr all netted goals in the final 1:09 of the second to give the Wildcats a 7-2 lead.
“We had some decent play. That’s the frustrating part, the inconsistency,” Marshwood/Traip coach Eric Royal said. “It’s a discipline issue. When we do what we are supposed to do, we have an opportunity to be successful. When we freelance and try to just chase pucks it doesn’t do anyone any good, and we don’t get the results.”