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February 12, 2014

The Blue Line Report: Playoff performance will ultimately determine Panthers' legacy

The Blue Line Report

Phil Stacey

With three games remaining in the regular season, it’s about time we put this Beverly High hockey season into some sort of historical perspective.

The Panthers (16-0-1) take the state’s lone unbeaten record on the road tonight, where they’ll face their fifth Division 1 opponent this winter in Mansfield (9-3-2) at the Foxboro Sports Center. They’ll then play at Peabody (4-11-2) Monday afternoon in the annual Carlin Cup, then wrap things up at against another Division 1 foe, Weymouth (6-9-3), next Wednesday.

If Beverly can avoid losing those three games, they’ll have completed the greatest regular season in school history; only one other Orange-and-Black hockey squad finished the regular season unbeaten, with the 1969-70 bladesmen going 13-0-1. If Beverly can win each of these three remaining contests, they’ll tie the 1971-72 team (which won 19 straight after a season opening loss) for most victories in one regular season.

Over the past three winters Beverly has gone a combined 48-8-3, including playoffs; that winning percentage of .839 is the best mark in school history, besting the three years from 1970-72 that went 50-10-3 overall (.817). The seniors on the current BHS team also hold the best four-year record in school history at 64-14-4 (.805) and have gone 38-6 in Northeastern Conference competition during that time (with only two losses the last three seasons).

This season has gone so well that Beverly became the first area team other than St. John’s Prep to earn consideration for the Super 8 tournament, no small feat to even be considered as a Division 2 entry. (The Panthers likely won’t be included in the final draw, but in this case it’s most definitely the thought that counts).

For the first time in 24 years, the Panthers have captured back-to-back Northeastern Conference hockey titles. The 1989 and 1990 BHS editions would, had the format existed at the time, likely have been Super 8 participants.

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