, Salem, MA


December 23, 2013

Birarelli shuts the door, Irving nets two as Beverly hockey downs Danvers


In an odd twist, morale was probably a bit better up the hall inside the Danvers locker room. Certainly the Blue-and-White would have preferred a win or even a tie, but the players were upbeat after the setback and head coach Kevin Brown said that his team’s effort was certainly abundant.

Lacking the offensive skill of their opponents, Danvers tried to slow down Beverly coming through the neutral zone and make it difficult for them to generate speed on the attack. The Panthers still got 30 shots off on junior goaltender Alex Taylor, but many of those came in spurts as the Falcons made them work.

“(Beverly) has some guys with skills who capitalized on some (chances). We had opportunities to make plays on their goals,” said Brown, whose team lost to Masconomet yesterday afternoon in Haverhill, 2-1. “But 5-on-5 I was happy with the way we played. We just have to keep working hard and keep getting that same effort.”

The Falcons did have a couple of scoring opportunities that the talented Birarelli thwarted. His best came in the first period when Danvers freshman Robert Tibbetts’ breakaway bid was turned aside by the big goalkeeper.

“They have some big bodies on defense that clog it up and don’t give up the blue line easily,” Brown said of Beverly.

With just 22.2 seconds until the first intermission it was Irving — who, ironically, wears No. 22 — who snapped the stalemate. Settled into the lower right circle, he took a one-time pass from defenseman Nick Albano and rifled a shot high over Taylor’s left shoulder for a 1-0 lead.

Irving then gathered in a J.J. Bachini (2 assists) dish in the slot and wristed one from the slot past Taylor for a 2-0 lead at 1:32 of the second period. A little over four minutes later, Lally broke up a pass in his own zone and raced up ice untouched, deked and scored for a man-down marker and 3-0 Panther lead.

Beverly is in action tonight against Division 1 Newburyport back at Salem State (5:30 p.m.); last season, the Panthers and Clippers played to a scoreless tie in Newburyport.

“Playing against a Division 1 team like that will make us raise our level up, said Hamor. “It’ll be a great test for us.”

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