“He had been flying for us in the preseason,” said Jackson, the team’s rookie head coach. “He was going to be a first line guy for us and on the top power play unit. That was tough to happen before the (first) game even started.”
Finishing off any 2-on-1 opportunities they have would go a long ways towards getting the Chietains their first ‘W’; in both their 4-3 loss to Pentucket and in last Saturday’s 1-0 heartbreaker vs. North Reading (a game in which they dominated), they failed to cash in on their odd-man rushes.
The last two local teams to play their season openers, Peabody and Gloucester, hit the ice tonight; both are eager to finally get out and hit someone in a different color uniform.
The Tanners hit the road to face Winthrop (6:20 p.m.) at Larsen Rink. Coach Mark Leonard, who is 10 wins shy of 200 in his 18th season behind the Peabody High bench, will ice a team that has an abundance of speed and some big boys on the backline — 6-foot-2, 215 pound senior Chris Minter, 6-foot-1, 215 pound junior Guiseppe Zarro and 6-foot-1, 200-pound freshman Donny Shaw among them.
The first five games are a virtual minefield for Peabody, which follows up tonight’s tilt with a road game at powerhouse Beverly on Saturday (3 p.m. at Salem State), its home opener on Thursday, Dec. 27 against a tough Newton North club (1 p.m.); a New Year’s Eve noontime clash at home with Division 3 standout Concord-Carlisle; and finally, a date with rival Danvers in the second annual Mike Clifford Memorial Game on Wednesday, Jan. 2 at Salem State (6:20 p.m.).
The Blue Line Report, a column on North Shore high school hockey, appears each Wednesday during the winter sports season. Contact sports editor Phil Stacey at email@example.com or 978-338-23650, and follow him on Twitter @PhilStacey_SN.