SALEM — They’ve already played twice this season and are scheduled for a third meeting on Wednesday, Jan. 29 before what is sure to be another jam-packed Rockett Arena crowd.
And who’s to say the Beverly and Marblehead hockey teams, two of the top squads in Division 2 hockey in the entire Commonwealth, couldn’t meet for a fourth time in the postseason? Say, in the North final?
That’s premature, of course, and wouldn’t happen for another two months. But from what we’ve seen from the first six periods that the Panthers and Headers have squared off this winter, it would have the makings of a classic.
The Panthers, who got two goals and an assist from junior right wing Jesse MacLaughlin, toppled Marblehead for the second time this season, 4-3, Saturday night. MacLaughlin’s linemate, Connor Irving, assisted on both of his goals while scoring on a feed from MacLaughlin, and junior Tim Birarelli stopped 28 shots in the victory.
“We’ve got pretty good chemistry together,” said Irving of he and MacLaughlin, who hadn’t skated previously this season and were only paired up in the fall league hockey for the first time. “It’s like we know where the other one is going to be all the time.”
Skating with arguably the Northeastern Conference’s most skilled player, the 17-year-old MacLaughlin said his motto was simple.
“Carpe diem — seize the day,” he chuckled.
Unbeaten Beverly (8-0-1) needed all of the offense it got because Marblehead never packed it in. Even after MacLaughlin’s second goal, coming just 25 seconds into the third period to give the Panthers a 4-1 lead, the Headers weren’t fazed; instead, they went on to dominate the rest of the contest territorially and shot-wise while getting within a goal before the final horn sounded.