SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

Sports

March 13, 2014

Secretaries of defense

Beverly foursome giving opponents the blues on the blue line

(Continued)

The fact that the Panthers and all-time leading scorer Connor Irving have amassed 106 goals of their own certainly helps that differential. On the strength of Birarelli and the defense, Beverly has allowed only 28 goals on the season, the second-lowest total statewide.

“It’s chemistry,” said Irving. “They’ve had the same pairs for a few years now and that brings out the best in them. They let us take more risks up front because they always have our backs.”

Albano is the second-highest scoring defenseman in that state with 43 points this year. He has a goal and seven assists in his team’s three postseason contests, assisting on all five goals in a 5-1 quarterfinal victory over Lincoln-Sudbury. “Teams almost have to watch him the way they watch Connor. Nick’s a serious threat,” said Birarelli.

In the offensive zone, Albano’s shot is dangerous from up high as evidenced by his eight goals. He has a team-high 35 assists, while Hamor has two goals (including 1 in his team’s 9-1 semifinal romp over Tewksbury) and seven assists. Munzing has eight helpers and Morency has two goals and seven assists.

“They have good chemistry and are all hard workers,” head coach Bob Gilligan said of his defensive foursome. “Especially on big ice, they can pass D-to-D wide really well. They set a physical tone and take away the other team’s forecheck.

“They utilize each other, they get shots though to the net and that’s a big part of the key for us.”

Family tradition

As Beverly prepares for its first state final, it only seems natural that there’s a Hamor with a ‘C’ stitched on his sweater. Matt’s older brother Mitch was also a captain for Beverly hockey, and his younger sister Marlee played for the girls varsity as an eighth grader this winter. His dad, Bill, was also a captain for the Panther icemen, as was his grandfather Bill, who went on to a highly successful career as BHS football coach and athletic director.

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