By Jean DePlacido
---- — PEABODY — Some breakdowns at the start of the second period proved costly for the Peabody High girls hockey team Saturday night — but certainly worked to Marblehead’s benefit.
Senior captain Brittany Smith had a hat trick as the Lady Headers scored a shorthanded goal, a power play strike and an even strength tally in the first six minutes of the middle period to defeat the Tanners, 4-2, at the McVann-O’Keefe Rink.
Peabody was coming off a road win over Brookline and held the visitors scoreless in the first period before the fateful second, in which the hosts had trouble clearing the puck away from their goal.
“That middle period killed us,” said head coach Larry Minehan. “I never expected to go undefeated this season, but the girls really wanted to win this game to go 2-0. Maybe that was the problem; we held them scoreless in the first and they thought they could just skate through the middle period.
“That first shift of the second period was a game changer. After those three quick goals, all of a sudden it was a different game.”
After a scoreless opening period where both teams had trouble generating shots, Marblehead got on the board quickly in the second. Just 19 seconds in Smith scored shorthanded. The three-sport athlete from Manchester-Essex Regional High uncorked a blast that landed under the crossbar that Peabody’s Jillian McCormick had no chance on.
Sophomore Emmarose Winder was set up by Smith and Hadley Woodfin on the power play to make it 2-0 Marblehead at the 3:30 mark. Winder and Woodfin returned the favor, assisting on Smith’s second goal at 5:56 in a jam in front of the Peabody net.
At that point Minehan changed goalies, bringing in freshman Lauren Hennessey of Lynnfield. The only goal Hennessey allowed was by Smith, who blasted a long shot that the Tanner goalie stopped but couldn’t handle as it trickled into the net in the first minute of the third period.
“Marblehead is a tough team to get shots on net against because they do such a good job keeping them away from their goaltender,” said Minehan. “We didn’t have any real shots in that first period, but we were determined not to get shut out. We went into that last period knowing we might not win the game, but wanting to get on the board.”
Caroline Buckley scored a power play goal for Peabody in the third period with Sophia Post and Alice Murphy assisting. Post added a goal in the final minute of play with Hannah Travers and Bella Piscatelli assisting.
Head coach Emily Hudak said her Marblehead squad was happy to start the season and get some experience. The team is young, with only one senior and two juniors.
“We’re a scrappy young team,” said Hudak. “It’s huge to start the season with a win. “We held them to (13) shots, and that’s very important. Amanda Monahan, Caroline Hughes and Rose Callahan did a great job on defense.
“Smith does it all for us, too; head-mans the puck, has an awesome shot, and sets up her teammates. I can’t say enough about the leadership Brittany gives this young team. We only have one senior, but she’s a terrific player who really takes charge out there.”