SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

Sports

February 20, 2014

Kick Saves: Improved Tanners on paces to have their best season ever

Senior Courtney Smith has seen the ups and downs of the Peabody High girls hockey team up close over the last four seasons. She’s played every position imaginable, shifting between an offensive minded forward, a defensive forward, a defenseman and even played a few games in goal.

The Tanners have improved every one of her four years, and there’s not much she’d like better than to win the team’s final game tomorrow. A victory over Shawsheen would give Peabody (3-12-4) 12 points on the season, the most ever in team’s eighth varsity season. Peabody could finish 2-2-3 in its last seven games, a sure sign of how much they’ve improved over the course of the year.

“I like the idea of going out on top,” said Smith, who’s known as “Bit” to her teammates for her size and hustle and will graduate as one of Peabody’s leading career point-getters for girls.

“We’ve improved a lot since my first year. We always seem to be better at the end of the year, especially since we’re bringing so many different girls together.”

Peabody co-ops with Lynnfield High, and also has players from the middle schools in both Peabody and Lynnfield. This year’s team is one of coach Larry Minehan’s best ever defensively, with goaltender Lauren Hennessey (2.50 goals against average, .900 save percentage) making all the difference. Jillian McCormick played well when Hennessey was injured for nearly half the season, but it’s easy to wonder if Peabody could’ve pushed for a state tournament spot if the goalies were healthy all season.

“The goalies have made a big difference last year and especially this year,” said junior Hannah Travers. “You feel so much more comfortable knowing they’re going to have your back if you make a mistake. Having (stronger) goalies makes everyone play better.”

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