SALEM — On the first shift of a hockey game, one team is looking to make a statement and the other is looking to survive.
Saturday night at Rockett Arena, the unbeaten Beverly girls hockey team used the first shift to let rival Marblehead know exactly which team would be surviving this one.
Senior captain Nicole Woods scored just 26 seconds into the game and a fast start helped push the Panthers over the Lady Headers, 7-2.
Julia Nearis, an eighth grader, had four goals and notched her third hat trick in five games for Beverly (5-0-0). She scored her first goal of the game 32 seconds after linemate Woods opened the scoring, and in just 68 seconds of action Marblehead (3-2-1) was behind by two.
“The first shot goes in and on the bench you say ‘Ah.’ The second one goes in and you really say ‘Ahhh’,” said Marblehead coach Emily Hudak. “Beverly’s a really good team. It took a little too long before we learned what we were up against.”
Nearis, who leads the area with 16 goals this season, completed the hat trick by the end of the first period as Beverly led 5-0 after one. She scored once more in the second and also had an assist on one of Woods’ two goals. The young winger showed off a variety of shots, scoring from the blue paint and the top of the circle with both high shots and low, accurate blasts.
“Some people are natural scorers and some naturally have other stuff. Julia is a natural scorer,” said Beverly Brian Seabury. “She has a knack for the net, both getting it there and putting it in.”
Woods had two goals and two assists to hike her season point total to 27. Kristen McCarthy, skating on the other wing with Woods and Nearis, had a pair of assists. The Panthers’ top unit has combined for 34 goals and 76 points in the first five games of 2013-14.