SALEM — Matt Koopman can look back now and refer to it as a learning curve in his development as both a young man and a highly talented hockey player.
The rest of his Marblehead teammates and coaching staff may refer to it as the moment that changed their season for the better.
Since being benched four games ago during a game against Peabody, Koopman has been on fire offensively. He continued that trend last night against Danvers by scoring twice, including a shorthanded tally, and dishing out an assist in the Headers’ 5-1 Northeastern Conference victory at Rockett Arena.
“I had a good talk with the coaches after that happened, and I think it’s really helped me a lot,” said Koopman. “I’ve been able to get my offensive game going ever since.”
Koopman has scored 11 points (4 goals, 7 assists) in the three games since Peabody, not coincidentally all of which are Marblehead (14-5 overall) wins. His older brother, senior captain Tom Koopman, added two assists last night while senior Miles Barry earned his sixth victory in goal.
“As a young adult, Matt was trying to do too much himself (beforehand). At any level of hockey, that just doesn’t work,” said Marblehead head coach Bob Jackson, whose team outshot Danvers, 37-11. “The biggest thing he can now pat himself on the back about is that he’s matured and really working well with (linemates) Tom and Braden (Haley). His maturing has helped that entire line start clicking and really benefited us as a team.”
It was a potentially fatal setback for Danvers (7-9-1), which now must secure no worse than two wins and tie in its final three games to qualifying for the state playoffs for the 24th time in the last quarter-century.
The Falcons managed just one shot on goal in the final period and seemed to lose their aggressiveness as the game wore on. Marblehead, which rolled four lines and seven defensemen, simply never stopped attacking and the Blue-and-White were unable to match that pace.