By Jean DePlacido
---- — PEABODY — This has not been the kind of season either Peabody or Swampscott hoped for, and while neither will be going to the playoffs they want to finish up strong. The Tanners did just that, scoring in all three periods en route to a 7-2 victory over the Big Blue in a make up game that was snowed out twice.
What Peabody coach Mark Leonard was most pleased about after his team picked up its fifth win (5-11-2) was that 12 different players figured in the scoring. Leonard had to juggle his lines because Reed Foster (DQ) and Owen Brewster (concussion) were out of the lineup.
He called freshman Ethan LeBlanc up from the JV’s to play on the fourth line with Anthony Hartnett, who is normally a defenseman, and sophomore Danny Pratto. LeBlanc delivered with a goal and an assist while Pratto also collected an assist.
“We were short a couple of forwards so had to make some changes. It was nice to see that fourth line work so well,” said Leonard. “LeBlanc is a good little player. We moved Jason Marshall up to the third line, and he had two points (goal and assist). We went with a lot of young kids, who are working very hard and excited to get their chance.”
The veterans also came through in a big way. Captain Derek DeMild had a pair of goals and fellow captain Mike Vadala was the playmaker with three assists. DeMild got things started with 3:31 gone in the game when he beat Big Blue freshman goalie Zach Turner short side, and just over a minute later defenseman Cam Sullen made it 2-0.
The Tanners dominated that period, peppering Turner with 15 shots while Peabody sophomore Freddy Robitaille stopped four. Robitaille’s best save came in the final seconds when he got in front of a hard shot by Stevie Dandreo.
Peabody stretched the lead to 4-0 on goals by freshman Chris Gillen and Marshall in the first two and a half minutes of the middle period. Ryan Cresta got his team on the board with a power play goal and freshman Andrew Dove scored an unassisted goal to cut Peabody’s lead to 4-2 less than two minutes later before DeMild gave the Tanners a 5-2 lead heading into the final period. He fired a one-timer past Turner with Vadala and Matt Pino assisting.
“It felt really good to have a game like this where we have the lead all the way,” said Vadala. “In 14 of our 17 games we’ve been tied and lost by a goal or two on an empty netter in the last five minutes.
“We had a lot of young kids out there, and I try to encourage them. I remember how nervous I was as a freshman so I do what I can to calm them down and build their confidence. Right now we’re hoping to finish up strong. We’d love to repeat what happened last year in the Carlin Cup when we upset Beverly. That’s my last game, and I’m hoping to go out with a bang.”
Dandreo had a breakaway in the first minute of the third period, but Robitaille robbed him with a glove save. J.T. Eason and LeBlanc added insurance goals.
“We’re a very young team this year (8 freshmen), but we have some players,” said Swampscott coach Gino Faia after his team fell to 3-15-1. “Everything that could have gone wrong did this season right from the start with injuries, but we’re not going to make excuses.
“We picked it up in the second period with aggressive forechecking and got a couple of pucks in the net. That was as good a period as we’ve played all year, but then they got a couple of quick ones to put the game away.”