By Phil Stacey
---- — SALEM — They have attempted an astonishing 119 shots on goal in their first two games.
Imagine what’s going to happen once the Marblehead High hockey team starts hitting opposing nets with more accuracy.
The Headers came out flying last night at the Rockett Arena, controlling play and tempo while putting forth a complete 45-minute performance in a 4-1 triumph over Danvers in a battle of Northeastern Conference North rivals.
Marblehead did not let Danvers breathe — it scored 16 seconds after the Falcons’ only goal, and didn’t allow the Blue-and-White to cross center ice with the puck for the first two-and-a-half minutes of the third period with a ferocious forecheck and cycling game. Danvers rarely gets outplayed, but the Headers certainly did so last night.
“Without question,” Danvers head coach Kevin Brown said. “We didn’t have any jump and credit those guys; they were prepared and took it to us from the get-go. We were outworked in all three zones.”
Marblehead (now 2-0) needed a strong third period to defeat Gloucester in its season opener this past weekend, and used that same energy against the Falcons, making it last the whole way through. They were relentless in their puck pursuit and winning 50/50 battles while creating a multitude of scoring chances in front of Danvers netminder Alex Taylor.
“If we can just get all those shots on net, we’ll really be doing something,” joked Marblehead head coach Bobby Jackson, whose team has killed off all nine of its shorthanded situations thus far, including four last night.
“We wanted to take that same focus we had (in the third period) against Gloucester and bring it to Danvers right away, a team we know can really be dangerous if you don’t take it to them right away. I thought we did a real nice job playing defense and limiting their shots (18) and our centers did a nice job down low on the forecheck.”
Two of the three Koopman brothers, first liners Tom and Matt, played a big role in the Headers’ scoring. Tom Koopman, a captain, used Danvers defenseman Ryan Cassidy as a screen and ripped a wrist shot past Taylor near post a little under six minutes into the contest, giving his team a lead it would never lose. Defenseman P.J. Roy assisted on the play. Then, three-and-a-half minutes into the middle stanza, Colin Daly took a one-timer pass from sophomore Matt Koopman in the slot and, catching Taylor off angle, beat him for a 2-0 advantage.
Danvers got on the board 1:15 before the period ended when, after head-manning the puck off the boards, Trevor Daly took a pass from captain Kevin Hodgkins and beat Harrison Young low glove side from the slot. It was Daly’s second goal in as many games for the Falcons (1-1).
But the hosts squelched any momentum the Falcons had gained when Matt Koopman connected just 16 seconds later, finishing off a a pretty play when he went forehand-to-backhand-to-forehand before snapping a shot over Taylor’s shoulder.
“Huge goal right there,” admitted Brown, who stressed the need for his team to find its own identity early in the season. “We make it 2-1 and it’s a game. They come right back down and score and that killed us.”
Dean Fader essentially ended the contest with seven-and-a-half minutes to play after coming out from the corner, pivoting in the left circle and beating Taylor 5-hole with a snapshot.