NEWBURYPORT — The Danvers High hockey team had to win one championship to give themselves a shot at another.
Needing a point to qualify for the Division 2 North tournament, the Falcons turned up the heat in the second period to beat Saugus, 2-0, in the final game of the Newburyport Bank Ice Hockey Classic at Graf Rink last night.
Danvers (10-10-1 overall, 10-9-1 for tournament seeding purposes) hoisted the Fournier Division title while also earning a spot in the state playoffs for the fifth straight season. The Falcons went 5-2-1 in their last eight games in order to qualify.
“The guys had to reach down. Some of the stretches we went through, maybe we hit rock bottom at some point, but the guys kept climbing out,” said Danvers head coach Kevin Brown. “That’s a credit to our senior leadership. They led and it worked it’s way through the rest of the room.”
Against a physical Saugus team that wrapped up its first season in the Cape Ann League 6-13-1, Danvers played the body and limited the Sachems’ shots on goal. The Falcons took a few penalties that took them out of rhythm in the first, but found their stride in the second.
Danvers assaulted Saugus goalie David Aiken with 12 shots in the period, and defenseman Stephen Ganley’s blast found its way through traffic and into the net with 8:56 to go in the middle frame. Captain Kevin Hodgkins provided a good screen on Ganley’s goal, which was assisted by Jay Calcagno.
“It seemed like we got more pucks to the net,” Brown said of the difference between the first and the second. “High school sports are about momentum, and we gained momentum as each line picked up off the previous line. We got a nice flow going.”
Saugus had a golden opportunity to tie the game when Erik D’Orlando was whistled for a 4:00 major penalty early in the third. The Falcons’ penalty killers limited the Sachems to three shots on goal during that stretch, however, and Alex Taylor (17 saves in all) held the post on one strong bid to keep Saugus off the board.