“It’s a tough one to swallow,” admitted Beverly head coach Bob Gilligan. “Give Danvers credit; they played hard and were certainly ready for us. They took it to us in the first period and part of the second; we didn’t get off to the start we hoped for.
“I think (Danvers) had something to prove, which might have given them a little more of an edge.”
It was the first time any of Danvers’ seniors had ever beaten Beverly; they were beaten twice during the regular season by the Northeastern Conference North champions.
“It’s absolutely unbelievable,” said Anderson (a career high 4 points, including a goal) outside the Falcons’ locker room as one of their post-game song rituals, the pulse-pounding ‘Tubthumping’, blared inside. “We’ve struggled with them for years, so in the biggest game of our lives on the biggest stage we finally beat them. It’s surreal.”
Danvers now moves on to the Division 2 North semifinals for the first time in eight seasons, where it will meet Concord-Carlisle (12-8-2) Monday at the Chelmsford Forum. The Patriots defeated Watertown, 2-1, last night.
“Certainly in a state tournament game, your energy and focus is raised up quite a bit,” said a composed Danvers coach Kevin Brown after the game. “But it’s being able to put in all together that really matters. We were able to do that right off the bat tonight.”
A turnover in the Beverly zone saw Danvers take a quick 1-0 lead after Anderson whipped a pass to Couto all alone out front and he beat Biarelli cleanly. The Panthers responded quickly, with junior captain Connor Irving tying the game with a power play goal, a slapshot from the right circle through traffic. Nick Albano and Andrew Irving earned assists on the tally.
The Panthers could never impose their will, as they had done to so many opponents this winter, on Danvers this night, however. The blue-clad Falcons stuck with their game plan of forechecking, playing the body at every turn and projecting confidence at all times, and eventually took the lead back when Anderson scored his first goal of the season, a slapshot from the left point that he roofed late in the first period.