SALEM — They are a very good high school hockey team — and they know it.
But they can certainly play much better than they have been in the early part of the season — and the members of the unbeaten Beverly High hockey team are well aware of that, too.
“We’re not where we should be, even this early in the season. But we’ll get there soon,” said senior captain Matt Hamor, a defenseman who helped the Panthers lock down arch rival Danvers, 3-0, Saturday afternoon at the Rockett Arena.
“We definitely have the potential, literally, to be one of the best teams out there. I think as the season goes on, we’ll pick up our game and find that.”
Junior netminder Tim Birarelli earned his second shutout in three starts this season while stopping 15 shots; he hasn’t allowed a goal in eight periods thus far. Senior center and captain Connor Irving took care of Beverly’s scoring needs by burying a power play tally late in the first period and adding a rebound goal a minute-and-a-half into the second. Kevin Lally completed the job with a shorthanded breakaway snipe.
The Beverly coaches, however, felt it was a “sloppy win”, according to head coach Bob Gilligan. That’s partly because of the way Danvers dogged the Panthers all over the ice and never let them get a comfortable lead, but also because of the home team’s lack of consistency.
“There were shifts where we looked OK, but not consistently enough,” said Gilligan, whose team has outscored its four foes 20-2. “Danvers is not the kind of team you want to let hang around.
“We’ll take the win, but we need a more consistent effort. There was a lot of circling (with the puck) in our own zone, a lot of starts and stops. Instead of looking for the home run pass, I’d rather see our guys play defense first and create offense off that. Don’t wind up for the big slapshot, but get off a quick snapshot to get the puck on net. Things like that.”