Birarelli calls Santo “our unsung hero. He beats everyone to those 50/50 pucks so we get possession; his hand-eye coordination is through the roof, and he does whatever you ask him to all the time. He’s a great player.”
The Panthers won 32 of 50 faceoffs against Tewksbury, and that 64 percent success rate undoubtedly helped them gain puck possession in all three zones and generate offense. Third line center Kevin Lally led the way, winning 10 of 13 draws, followed by Irving (11 of 19), Doherty (8 of 14), Clinton Cabral (2 of 3) and MacLaughlin (1 for 1).
In all three playoff games their opponents have gotten an early jump on Beverly with first period goals — but one score is all the Panthers have allowed in those three games.
Beverly has not played from behind for long, however. In the first tourney game against Danvers, Irving tied it 29 seconds later. The against Lincoln-Sudbury, it took 4:01 for Brenden Boyle to erase the Warriors lead. In the North final, Tewskbury’s 1-0 lead was history in a matter of 58 seconds.
So while Beverly’s been behind in all three games, it’s been for a grand total of 5:28.
“If you don’t jump on us with a couple early,” said Birarelli, “well, once we get going, it’s pretty tough to stop us.”
In fact, this postseason the Panthers have held the lead for 74:40 and been tied for 68:42 in addition to their 5:28 of time behind. Interestinly, out of that 68:42 of time tied, 56:31 came in the first-round game against Danvers.
Quick strikes have also become a habit for Beverly in the playoffs. Two goals within 15 seconds of each other were scored in the victory over Lincoln-Sudbury while there were also a pair of occasions in which they netted two goals withing 60 seconds of each other in the romp over Tewksbury.
One place where the Panthers could possibly improve? On the power play, where the Orange-and-Black are just 1-for-10 in the playoffs. Taking special teams as a whole, however, Beverly is a perfect 11-for-11 on the penalty kill with a shorthanded goal for. Both special teams goals came in the previous playoff win over Tewksbury, meaning each of the eight goals scored in the first two postseason games were even strength.