By Jean DePlacido
---- — SAUGUS – The Peabody hockey team gave coach Mark Leonard one of the best Christmas presents he could wish for, an impressive 6-0 victory over cross-town rival Bishop Fenwick in the opening game of the Kasabuski Christmas Tourney.
The Tanners came into the game with a disappointing 0-3 record, and before the game Leonard said it was a “must win” situation. After a scoreless first period, Peabody exploded for four goals in the middle period and set the tone the rest of the way.
“I thought we played okay in the first period, but we were sitting back a little waiting for things to happen,” said Leonard. “Both teams took a while to get used to the early start (10 a.m.), but we needed something like that second period.
“We came in with an 0-3 record, but we were not playing like a team that hadn’t won a game. You can only stay positive for so long so we needed a win like this. Hopefully, this will carry over.”
Reed Foster put the Tanners on the board with just twenty six seconds gone in the middle period with defenseman Donny Shaw assisting. Andrew Bisconti made it 2-0 five minutes later after some nice puck movement by linemates Ryan Carney and Bobby Caproni.
Peabody had five different goal scorers with the first line of Derek DeMild, Mike Vadala, and Foster accounting for four and the second line chipping in with a pair.
“We got good production from a lot of different people which is nice to see,” said Leonard. “Our first line set the pace, and our second line was tremendous. They’ve got a lot of speed and took advantage of it to create lots of pressure. We were able to get pucks deep and not try to over-handle.”
Peabody came out flying in that middle period and kept the pressure on for the entire 15 minutes, outshooting the Crusaders by a 22-6 margin. Carney was set up by Caproni and Bisconti to make it 3-0, and before the period ended DeMild’s goal made it 4-0 heading into the third period. Goal scoring had been a problem for the Tanners in the first three games, but the drought ended.
“We didn’t play well at all; we need to get better in all areas of the game including coaching,” said Fenwick coach Dan Lynch. “We can’t have one good period, and one bad one. We were a little back on our heels, and Peabody worked very hard.
“We tried to make some adjustments, but were not able to do it the way I hoped. We didn’t play to our ability; we have to be better on offense, defense, and in the neutral zone. This is a young team, and we’ll bounce back.”
The Crusaders had played two exclusion games that don’t count, losing to both St. John’s Prep and 4-1 to Xaverian. Whenever Peabody and Fenwick face off it is always an intense rivalry even though they haven’t met in a couple of years. The Crusaders have three or four players from Peabody on their roster this season.
“My last time playing Fenwick I was a freshman and didn’t see the ice, so this one felt very good,” said Peabody captain Vadala, who had two goals. “It’s great to beat Fenwick before I graduate. I know some of the guys on that team and have a lot of respect for them. This was a clean game, and even when we had a big lead they didn’t get chippy.”
Vadala finished off the scoring with a pair of third period goals, including a nifty short-handed tally when he stole the puck at the blue line and fired a lot shot by goalie Bobby Lombardi.
“Coach got us fired up after the first period,” said Vadala. “We scored right away and then kept it going. Our defense did a really good job and Freddy (goalie Freddy Robitaille) saved us a few times. Being 1-3 is a lot different than 0-4. We really needed this one.”
Foster, DeMild, Carney, and Bisconti all had a goal and an assist. Peabody had an overwhelming 39-15 shot advantage, and besieged Lombardi, who was able to make three saves at times before the fourth went in.
“It was a good team effort,” said Leonard. “Robitaille is a sophomore, who didn’t play much last year except in mop up time. He’s very calm back there, and although he wasn’t very busy did make a few big saves early.
“Our defense did a great job shutting them down coming out of their zone, and we pounded them physically. It’s always a special win over Bishop Fenwick. We had a good week of practice and it carried over.”