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Sports

March 10, 2014

Top-seeded Beverly hockey looks for first-ever Division 2 North title tonight vs. Tewksbury

(Continued)

“I think I played that whole (Arlington) game,” joked Gilligan, a senior defenseman on that ‘72 squad. “My brother Billy had both of our goals, but we couldn’t get the equalizer.”

Plethora of talent

With 97 goals scored and speed galore, the Panthers are more than happy to get into a track meet with teams offensively. But they also relish the physical side of the game and can mix it up in all three zones if that’s what their opponents desire. Dirty goals, pretty snipes, clutch third period goals — the Panthers have gotten them all this winter.

At 189 points and counting, captain Connor Irving is the program’s all-time leading scorer, and leads his team with 48 this winter, including a career-best 19 goals. Fellow senior center Graham Doherty (17-14-31) can also put the puck away.

J.J. Bachini (5-10-15), Kevin Lally (4-11-15), Jake Straw (9-6-15), Jesse MacLaughlin (8-4-12), Ryan Santo (5-5-10), Teddy Leathersich (4-6-10), Ross Wahl (4-5-9) and Brenden Boyle (5-1-6) are each capable of finding the scoresheet.

When Lally scored in an eventual 5-1 quarterfinal win over Lincoln-Sudbury last Monday, he became the 11th different Panther to record a game-winning goal in 2013-14.

Junior Tim Birarelli has given up just two goals on 37 shots in his team’s two playoff wins, adding to one of the best seasons by a Beverly High goaltender ever. In addition to going 18-1-1, he’s stopping 92.7 percent of the shots he’s faced and has a 1.28 goals-against average with five shutouts.

Beverly’s defense features three seniors who have played varsity minutes for four seasons in captains Sean Munzing and Matt Hamor and Jack Morency. Junior Nick Albano is his team’s second leading scorer with 40 points. The foursome have kept shots against to just a shade over 17 allowed per contest.

Only three times this winter has Birarelli been asked to make more than 18 saves in a game: 21 in a win at Westford Academy, 28 in a triumph over Marblehead and 26 in the Panthers’ only loss, 2-0 at Weymouth in their regular season finale.

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