By Phil Stacey
---- — PEABODY — As it turns out, it was the fourth time that was the charm for Mark Leonard and his Peabody High hockey team.
Trailing by a goal in the late stages of the third period Saturday, the hosts scored three times over the final 5:41 of play, snapping their three-game losing streak and giving Leonard his 200th career victory behind the Tanners’ bench in a 5-3 triumph over the Lynn Jets at McVann-O’Keefe Rink.
Defenseman Matt Pino’s goal came with 57.9 seconds to play and put Peabody ahead, 4-3. Reed Foster’s empty net goal sealed the victory.
“I did a basic pinch (along the right wall to keep the puck in the zone), made a move on their defenseman, went top shelf and scored,” said Pino on his second goal of the season, pausing to smile before adding, “just like I intended.”
“That was a great play. (Pino’s) a good player,” said Leonard, who now sports an all-time record of 200-160-27 in 19 seasons as Peabody’s bench boss.
“It was a good feeling, seeing that one go in. We fought hard and made some plays in that third period ... otherwise, that could’ve been a devastating loss for us.”
The Tanners (3-6) trailed by a goal, 3-2, after 30 minutes and struggled to even up the score, failing to convert on three power play opportunities (including a 42-second 5-on-3 advantage where they had but a single shot on Lynn freshman netminder Jack Stafford).
But by simply getting the puck on net — in this case, junior defenseman Cam Smullen’s wrist shot from the left point — the Tanners tied it up with 5:41 to go when the disc found its way through a maze of legs out front and beat Stafford low glove side.
Keeping up the pressure from that point on, Pino cashed in on his chance in the offensive zone. Captain Andrew Bisconti was credited with his second assist of the night.
“When I saw that goal go in,” Peabody freshman netminder Aaron McConnell (13 saves) said, “it got me amped. I knew we were going to win coach’s 200th.”
Foster, who leads the team in scoring with nine goals, sealed it with his second goal of the game 24 seconds later into an empty cage.
“I wasn’t happy with the way we played in the second period (when the visiting Jets scored three times), but our guys responded in the third period, really picking it up,” said Leonard. “We were trying to dangle too much (in the second) instead of getting the puck in deep. When we didn’t get (anything going) on that 5-on-3, I started to think this might not happen.”
Foster’s first goal gave Peabody a 1-0 lead after 15 minutes before Corey Wojewodzic (on the power play) and Alex Amico gave Lynn (5-2-1) a 2-1 lead in the second. J.T. Eason’s first goal of the season tied it up with four minutes until intermission, but the Jets’ Ryan MacDonald scored off a pretty end-to-end rush at 13:10 to send the visitors to the locker room with a 3-2 lead after two.