SALEM – Opening night was satisfactory in that it got the desired two points. But it was the second act of the Beverly High hockey season on Saturday afternoon that garnered rave reviews.
Playing again just 15 hours after they opened the season the previous night, the Panthers flexed their collective muscles in a dominant second period by scoring six times to hammer Peabody, 6-0, at the Richard H. Rockett Arena.
Senior right wing J.J. Bachini tallied twice and linemate Connor Irving dished out three assists while junior Tim Biarelli stopped 18 shots for the shutout.
“We preach spreading out and getting open for a good outlet pass,” said the 17-year-old Bachini, one of five Panther goal scorers on the day. “Using our speed plays a big part in that.”
Showing the effects of playing its season opener just 15 hours beforehand, Beverly started off slowly Saturday and put just three shots on Peabody goaltender Stephen Ferrante in the game’s first 11 minutes before peppering him with 13 over the final four before intermission.
It proved to be a sign of things to come.
“Things turned quickly,” admitted Beverly head coach Bobby Gilligan, who had reminded his team beforehand that it was Peabody who ended his team’s 18-game unbeaten streak a year ago, capturing the Carlin Cup in the process. “We really started forechecking them and they shut down. They couldn’t get anything going.”
Irving won the faceoff to begin the second period and slid the puck to junior defenseman Nick Albano, who carried it over the blue line and blasted a rocket past Ferrante just 10 seconds in for a quick 1-0 lead.
Less than six minutes later it was another blueliner, senior Jack Morency, who doubled the BHS lead. Warding off a defender with one arm, he took the puck into the slot and beat Ferrante with a wrist shot in the top corner.
Peabody, which had a great chance in the first when captain Derek DeMild was sprung loose on a breakaway only to be denied by a Biarelli glove save, seemed to lose some of the fire it showed in the opening 15 minutes after those two quick goals, and it snowballed from there.
“We let up after that second goal, Beverly sensed it and poured it on,” said Tanners (0-1) head coach Mark Leonard. “You simply can’t play that way against a team like Beverly and hope to try and get back into it.”
Keeping the pressure on, the Panthers made it 3-0 when Jake Straw collected a Ross Wahl pass and tucked a backhand past Ferrante low stick side. It was Straw’s second goal in as many nights; Kevin Lally also assisted on the play.
The Panthers’ lead swelled to four a minute-and-a-half later when Irving found linemate J.J. Bachini streaking down the slot and hit him for a one-timer. “I’ve been playing with Connor since Mites; it’s easy to play with him and Graham. They both see the ice and move the puck so well,” said Bachini.
A power play goal by Graham Doherty, with Irving and Albano assisting, made it 5-0 with two minutes left in the second. Bachini then notched his second of the game, this one shorthanded, by hustling to grab an Albano dump in and beating Ferrante between the pads.
“J.J. worked really hard in the offseason and got a lot stronger on his skates. He’s a tough kid,” acknowledged Gilligan, whose team finished with 40 shots on goal. “He’s a good natural skater with great side-to-side movement, and he’s got the speed to keep up with Connor and Graham. The three of them together can make things happen so fast.”
Irving and Albano both have five points for the first two games for Beverly, which plays at Gloucester Wednesday (6 p.m.).
Peabody, which got strong games from sophomore defenseman Aaron Dollin, captain Mike Vadala and the second line of Andrew Bisconti, Ryan Carney and Reed Foster, hosts Winthrop in its home opener Wednesday (5:15 p.m.).