SAUGUS – What a difference two big wins can make. Peabody came into the Kasabuski Christmas Tournament with a disappointing 0-3 record and left with the National Division championship after putting together back to back solid efforts.
Yesterday’s 5-2 win over Wakefield was similar to Thursday’s victory over Bishop Fenwick. After a scoreless first period the Tanners exploded for four goals in the middle frame to take a 4-1 lead.
“It’s nice to back up the Fenwick game (6-0) with another win to prove that wasn’t a fluke,” said Peabody coach Mark Leonard, who is now just one victory away from reaching the 200 mark and can do it in Methuen on New Year’s Eve (noon start). “We’re gaining confidence, and broke out the scoring again.
“That had been a big problem in our first three games, but a little confidence goes a long way. Once again we took over the game in the second period after having a little advantage in the first. I liked the way we moved to get pucks deep, and we also had the edge in physical play. I know Wakefield is very young, but that’s a Division 1 team we beat.”
In the past two games the Tanners have scored 11 goals while giving up only 2. Sophomore Freddy Robitaille got the start in net for the second straight game and allowed one goal on a Warriors power play. Freshman Aaron McDonnell took over late in the game and also gave up a power play goal.
Peabody had five different scorers, getting two goals from defensemen and one apiece from each of the first three lines. After a pretty even first period the Tanners completely controlled play, using their speed to beat Wakefield to the puck and making good passes.
“We got off to a bit of slow start, feeling things out. But in the second period the goals kept coming,” said captain Andrew Bisconti, who centers the second line and assisted on a goal. “It’s an awesome feeling to win this tournament, especially after starting off 0-3.
“We really needed a win, and getting it against Fenwick boosted our morale coming into this game. We wanted to show everybody that we’re a better team than our record. Coach does a great job spreading out the talent; we don’t have one top heavy line. Everybody contributes, and now we’re starting to play with a lot of confidence.”
Defenseman Donny Shaw put Peabody on the board in the first minute of the middle period after taking a pass from Mike Vadala and firing a quick shot from the right point that beat Wakefield goalie Ben Yandell.
The Warriors answered right back with a power play goal by Tyler Gibbons less than a minute later, but sophomore Owen Brewster gave Peabody a lead it would not relinquish 25 seconds later. He was assisted by freshman linemate Chris Gillen.
The Tanners held Wakefield to just three shots in the period while peppering Yandell with 13. Junior Matt Pino scored the first goal of his career with the Tanners to make it 3-1. He worked the puck along the boards and then cut to the middle to stuff it between Yandell’s pads on the power play with Shaw picking up an assist.
More relentless pressure paid off when Bobby Caproni scored on a rebound with 14 seconds left in the period to put his team ahead, 4-1. Vadala put the game out of reach early in the last period, beating Mike Melanson, who had replaced Yandell in the net.
“I’m very happy with both wins in this tournament, and we got some hardware to take home,” said Leonard referring to the nice plaque his team earned. “It wasn’t just one line doing the scoring, but a lot of different people involved. Once again our second line (Bisconti, Ryan Carney, Caproni) had a great game. They’ve got a lot of speed, and it creates problems for the defense.
“Pino made a nice play on that goal; he was really hustling out there. If we came in here and dropped two our season could have been over, but we played two good games. We’re still young, but with each game they are making smarter plays.”