By Dan Harrison
---- — SALEM — The Beverly boys hockey team called on its penalty killers three different times in the third period trying to hold on to a one-goal lead over Newburyport.
The Panthers’ man down unit answered the ball each time before Graham Doherty tallied his second goal of the game to give Beverly the 2-0 victory over the Clippers.
“We had way too many penalties. The kids played well but we didn’t really get a chance to get going,” explained Panthers (5-0) head coach Bob Gilligan. “We set up the 1-3 (on the penalty kill) and shut them down. The forwards clogged up the neutral zone and caused confusion and the defense stayed up.”
Beverly was whistled for three penalties in a five-and-a-half minute span to begin the third period but Newburyport managed just two shots and no legitimate scoring chances in three man-advantage opportunities.
Forwards Kevin Lally, Jake Straw, Connor Irving and J.J. Bachini were excellent in all three zones with Beverly man down while defensemen Matt Hamor, Nick Albano, Jack Morency and Sean Munzing did a good job of clearing pucks and digging pucks out of the corners.
“I’ll take the blame,” said Clippers head coach Paul Yameen referring to his team’s inability to convert on the power play. “We spent too much time (in practice) working on their power-play and killing their power-play. But that’s not why we lost the game.”
Yameen lamented about the visitors’ key breakdown in the final minute of the first period that led to Doherty’s first marker. The Newburyport defense got caught watching the puck in Beverly’s end Nick Albano flicked the puck off the boards and saw it trickle into the Clippers zone.
Irving raced to the rubber and bumped off the lone Newburyport defenseman. That allowed Doherty to swoop in, collect the puck at the bottom of the circle and skate in unabated for the goal. Doherty made a move cross-crease and tucked the puck inside the right post.
“He’s (Doherty) a talented kid who’s got good hands. He’s the type of kid who can do that,” Gilligan said referring to his poise around the net. “We have a whole slew of them.”
Birarelli made just 12 stops to grab the shutout as he is yet to give up a goal this season. There was a stretch though in both the second and third periods where Newburyport found some momentum and Birarelli made a handful of tough saves to keep the Clippers off the scoreboard.
A few times the Panther defense got careless with the puck with bad turnovers in their own end but each time Birarelli bailed them out.
Doherty meanwhile put the game out of reach scoring in the same fashion as he did in the first period with a cross-crease move. Irving played the set up man again as he and Albano were credited with assists and finished with two helpers each.