By Dan Harrison
---- — PEABODY — The Danvers High hockey team has yet to play a strong first period this season, and that trend continued yesterday against winless Lynnfield.
The Falcons looked like a completely different team over the next two frames, however, and dominated Lynnfield in a 2-0 shutout win. The Blue-and-White had 20 shots more than the hosts over the final 30 minutes of play.
“We talked about having a better (first) period because we haven’t had a good first period all year,” said Falcons head coach Kevin Brown. “(Lynnfield) came out and hit us all over our zone. We talked about rebounding (before the second period), and the kids responded.”
With the win, Danvers improved to 4-4.
Danvers spent most of the time in its own end in the first period but the Pioneers (0-4-2), who forechecked well, didn’t get many quality shots on net. The Falcons really struggled to get the puck out of their own end, content instead to just fire the puck up the boards.
But they spent very little time in their own end in the second period thanks to smarter play from the defense led by Ryan Cassidy and Stephen Ganley, who started reversing the puck and looking for the guy in the middle. The Falcons held a 17-1 shot advantage in the second stanza.
“We pushed them in the first period and showed that we’re a better team than we were in that first game,” said Lynnfield skipper Jon Gardner, whose team lost 4-1 to the Falcons when they met in the Kasabuski Christmas Tournament. “And then they pushed back in the second and took the game over.”
The game looked like it would still be tied headed into the second intermission, but a heads-up pass by Danvers’ Trevor Daly sent a streaking Tyler Dustin into the Pioneer zone. With the Lynnfield defenseman sagging, Dustin uncorked a bomb of a slapshot that snuck just under the crossbar for a 1-0 Falcons’ lead.
Daly, Dustin and linemate Jay Calcagno were a big part of the turnaround. “It’s nice to have some balance. There’s three seniors, including a captain (Calcagno), on that line. We expect them to do well — and they’re the line we need to do well,” explained Brown.
“It was good to get something positive out of a good period. It was a great shot by Tyler; he probably had his best career game.”
Sophomore James Curley pushed the lead to 2-0 just two minutes into the third period when he used a burst of speed to gain entry to the zone, then made a diagonal pass back to Alec Littlefield at the right point. The senior defenseman fired a slap pass to the slot, where Curley tipped it past Pioneer keeper Joe Bassi.
Bassi’s counterpart, Danvers junior Alex Taylor, made 11 of his 17 total stops in the first period and made it look easy with good positioning.
“He seemed calm tonight,” Brown said of Taylor. “We talk about composure with him, so it was good to see him respond.”
The Danvers penalty kill came up big in the third period when Lynnfield earned a 4-on-3 that lasted for over a minute. The Falcons surrendered just one shot during the span and was a perfect 3-for-3 on kills for the game.
Forwards Robert Tibbetts, Matt Flynn and Kevin Hodgkins also skated extremely well for Danvers, especially in the second period when they enabled their team to keep the puck in the Lynnfield end for multiple shifts at a time.
Danvers 2, Lynnfield 0
at McVann-O’Keefe Rink, Peabody
Danvers: 0 1 1 — 2
Lynnfield: 0 0 0 — 0
First period: No scoring.
Second Period: D, Tyler Dustin (Trevor Daly, Steve Ganley), 14:47.
Third Period: D, James Curley (Alec Littlefield), 2:00.
Saves: D, Alex Taylor 17; L, Joe Bassi 34.
Records: D, 4-4; L, 0-4-2.