GLOUCESTER — It was the first time that the Beverly High hockey team had faced a serious challenge to its unblemished record this season — and they responded in a big way.
Trailing for the first time this season — by three goals in the first period, no less — the Panthers roared back by scoring six times over the final two periods to knock off Northeastern Conference rival Marblehead, 6-4, in the championship game of the Cape Ann Savings Bank tournament Saturday night at the Talbot Rink.
Junior defenseman Nick Albano, who finished the night with two goals and two assists, tied the contest at 4-4 by converting a Kevin Lally pass with 11 minutes to play. Then, with just 92 seconds remaining, senior Graham Doherty gave Beverly (7-0) its first lead by burying his fourth goal of the season. An empty netter from Albano with 50 seconds to go sealed the deal for the Orange-and-Black.
“It was good for us to come back from a deficit like that against a great team,” Beverly assistant coach Justin Shairs said after the win.
“We were down 3-0 after the first period and you could tell the attitude on the bench wasn’t great, so we addressed that between periods and the boys came out and dominated right out of the gate in the second period. We had to just chip away at their lead, and the seniors made sure we did that.”
Marblehead (now 4-2) shot out to a 3-0 lead after one period on a pair of goals from freshman Braden Haley and one by sophomore Tim Kalinowski. All told, the Headers scored as many goals Saturday as Beverly had allowed in its previous six games combined — but it ultimately wasn’t enough.
“I thought we played a very good first period, (but) Beverly picked up their intensity in the second and third period and we were not able to match it,” Headers coach Bob Jackson said. “We took a couple of bad penalties and it gave Beverly several good scoring opportunities and new life.”
Senior captain Connor Irving, the tournament MVP, had a goal and two assists in the victory and finished the two-game tournament with six points. The North Shore’s leading scorer (8 goals, 11 assists) got Beverly on the board with a power play strike at 6:58 of the second period, with Doherty and Albano assisting.
Skating his first shift of the game, junior wing Brenden Boyle took a pass from captain Jack Morency and beat Marblehead netminder Harrison Young high glove side to cut the deficit to 4-2. Tim Kalinowski’s second goal of the evening beat Beverly’s Tim Birarelli and gave Marblehead its two-goal lead back, but Boyle’s second goal of the period a minute-and-a-half later made it 4-3 after 30 minutes of play.
“We haven’t had to battle too much adversity in the early going,” said Shairs, “and Marblehead’s by far the toughest team we’ve faced. They can really move the puck and have some big boys out there. They gave us nothing, and I know that’ll be the case again when we meet them again (this Saturday at Salem State).”
Jackson said he hopes his club will learn from the loss and that it will benefit the Headers down the road.
“(Beverly’s) a very talented team. They have strong depth in their three lines, have strong and experienced defensemen, and (Birarelli) made some excellent saves when he needed to,” Jackson said. “Beverly has the manpower to be able to score quick goals in a flash —and they showed us that early in the second period.”