By Phil Stacey
---- — PEABODY — Like a sleeping bear that you wouldn’t dare poke with a stick, you do not want to awaken the offensive beast that the Beverly High hockey team can turn into.
Determined to make up for a sloppy first period, the unbeaten Panthers exploded for seven goals within a span of 6 minutes and 24 seconds yesterday afternoon and rolled past host Peabody, 8-1, in the 27th annual Carlin Cup.
Now 18-0-1, Beverly has a chance to finish the regular season unbeaten for only the second time in program history when it plays at Weymouth (7) tomorrow night.
Captain Connor Irving, the North Shore’s leading scorer with 45 points, had a goal and four assists. Linemate Jesse MacLaughlin buried a pair of goals while high-scoring defenseman also had two goals and added a pair of assists. Jake Straw (2 assists) and Graham Doherty (assist) had goals while Clinton Cabral also scored on a pretty backhand deke.
“We had to step it up after that first period and stop taking penalties,” senior defenseman Sean Munzing said. “But as soon as we got rolling in the second period, we were back on our game.”
The Carlin Cup is played each year in memory of Charlie Carlin, the founder of Peabody High hockey and the team’s first coach in 1947. His nephew, Bob Tierney, is a Peabody assistant coach. This was the third time that the Tanners had hosted Beverly in this game; previously, they had taken on Bishop Fenwick for 24 years.
“We did all right in the first period,” said Peabody (5-12-2) head coach Mark Leonard, whose team had a 1-0 lead after 15 minutes thanks to a J.T. Eason backhand goal. “I thought we might have had them frustrated after that first period, and thought if we could get another goal ... But they got the next one, and the next one, and the next one, and that’s how it went.”
Tim Birarelli stopped 11 of 12 shots for Beverly over two periods before Bryce Mitchell came on for the final 15 minutes and was sharp, denying all 12 Peabody shots that came his way. Stephen Ferrante, the third goalie used by Peabody yesterday, was also on top of his game, making 14 out of 15 saves.
“We wanted to redeem ourselves from last year,” said MacLaughlin, whose team was unbeaten through 16 games a year ago before falling to Peabody. “We were slow off the bat today, but once we get going ... we can really turn it on, as you saw.”