“They’re extremely talented offensively,” he said, “and from what we could tell, they’re just as talented defensively (Beverly went more than 20 minutes without allowing Tewksbury a shot on goal). We know that if we let them have time and space, they’re going to work and make plays. They have the talented forwards to do that.”
Coming off of a career-defining game with four goals and an assist in the North final, Connor Irving (53 points) leads the Beverly attack, having scored seven goals and an assist in the Panthers’ three playoff wins. He’s got plenty of help from fellow sharpshooters such as Graham Doherty (17 goals, 33 points), Jake Straw (10-7-17), Kevin Lally (4-11-15), Jesse MacLauglin (9-6-15), J.J. Bachini (6-12-18) and Ryan Santo (5-9-14), among others.
The quartet of defensemen Nick Albano (team-high 35 assists and 43 total points), Jack Morency and senior captains Sean Munzing and Matt Hamor are minute munchers who rarely allow a shot to get through to junior goaltender Tim Birarelli (19-1-1, .128 GAA, .926 save percentage, 5 shutouts).
“Obviously, we’re going in not knowing all that much about them aside from what we saw (Monday),” said Carlow. “That’s both good and bad; good because you don’t take anything for granted against them, but bad because you just don’t know.”
Speed is a teamwide trait of both teams; so is staying cool under pressure and finding a way to succeed. When the bright lights shine tomorrow night and the state title is at stake, Carlow says the outcome will be decided as much by each team’s mental state as physical performance.
“We have to make the right plays or Beverly will make us pay,” he said. “We can’t allow an odd-man break or anything like that.
“Bottom line is they’re dressing 22 guys and so are we, and neither of us have been on this stage before. Both teams will have to find a way to deal with that.”