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Sports

March 10, 2014

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

(Continued)

More than a worthy challenger

Tewksbury is no stranger to success, both in the regular season and state tournament. The Redmen won the 2011 Division 2 state title (beating Beverly along the way) and have gone a combined 55-13-8 in the regular season over the past four years.

With just four seniors in its lineup, Tewksbury is getting it done thanks to the contributions of its many junior and sophomores. Among the seniors, captains Ross Budryk (6-16-22) and Jeff Giasullo (1-5-6) are blue line forces while assistant Jack Cash (13-13-26) is among the team’s top forwards.

Ryan Petti (19-27-46) is the team’s unquestioned scoring star; together with fellow juniors Ryan Meade (7-16-23) and Colin Quinn (10-14-24), they must be considered dangerous every time they fly into the offensive zone. Sophomore Dario Riparo (11-2-13) has also shown a penchant for finding the back of the net.

Along with Budryk and Giasullo, sophomore defensemen Brett Morris (6-9-15) and Mark Gorman (4-4-8), as well as junior Robert Cutone (0-4-4), stand guard in front of junior Kyle Paquette, whose numbers (1.29 GAA, .933 save pct., 28 goals allowed, 7 shutouts) are similar to Birarelli’s.

Much like the Northeastern Conference North champions, Tewksbury likes to cut the middle of the ice and keep things to the outside. They also employ a forecheck where the wingers come at you and the center stays up high.

The Redmen have scored slightly fewer goals (86) and allowed three more (30) than Beverly, but won’t give an inch when the puck is dropped tonight.

The two North finalists have three common foes: Marblehead, Methuen and Lincoln-Sudbury (the latter two both in the same Merrimack Valley/Dual County League Division 2 as Tewksbury). Beverly beat Marblehead three times, toppled Methuen 6-1 on the road and is coming off of a decisive playoff win over Lincoln-Sudbury; the Redmen lost (3-1) and tied (3-3) L-S during the regular season, swept two meetings with Metheun (2-0 and 3-2) and is coming off of a playoff triumph over Marblehead.

Both teams have had seven days off to prepare for tonight’s showdown and are no doubt ready to finally get going.

“The way our kids have been going, they’re capable of doing anything,” said Gilligan. “They’ve been around and are really out to prove something this year; I think that’ll be a bit of an edge for us. They’re pumped up and ready to go.”

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