SALEM — In a split second Stephen Ganley had a decision to make: go for the puck or go after the puckcarrier.
He chose the latter — and his decision may have saved the Danvers High hockey team’s season.
Aggressively forechecking on the penalty kill with two minutes to go, Ganley crushed a Peabody player trying to come out of his own zone with a jarring hit to the chest, knocking the puck free. Teammate Jon Milne pounced on the loose disc and skated in alone before scoring the game-winning shorthanded goal with 1:53 remaining, giving the Falcons a wild 4-3 comeback victory.
Peabody had scored with exactly 10 minutes to play to take a 2-goal lead before Danvers rallied and produced the game’s final three scores, thus taking their third straight Mike Clifford Memorial Game, played in memory of the former assistant coach for both squads.
“We wanted to pinch their guy along the wall and Stephen made a real good play to steer him away from open ice,” said Milne, a senior defenseman. “I was the other guy there and was able to get the puck. From there, it’s just a matter of instincts; pick your head up, put the puck on net and hope it goes in.”
The win improved the Falcons’ record to 3-4.
“Jon was able to angle their guy towards the boards and I decided it was a good move to step up and hit him in the chest,” said the burly Ganley. “The puck squirted out in the slot and Jonny pounced on it and scored. Awesome play.”
For Peabody (2-5), it was the second straight outing in which it lost both a third period lead and the game. It also denied head coach Mark Leonard of his 200th career win behind the Tanners’ bench.
“All we had to do was get the puck to the other side … we slide the puck the other way and we would’ve had an odd man rush 3-on-2 the other way,” said Leonard of Danvers’ game-winning goal.