, Salem, MA


December 24, 2012

Advantage: Beverly

SALEM — Giving the explosive Beverly High hockey team multiple opportunities on the power play is like leaving the door open to a butchery when a pack of starving dogs live next door.

“They’re too good to be giving them man up chances like that,” said Peabody head coach Mark Leonard, whose team surrendered three power play tallies in a 6-0 loss to the unbeaten Panthers Saturday at the Rockett Arena.

Off to a torrid start this winter, Beverly (now 3-0) cruised to its third blowout win in as many games. The Panthers have scored 19 goals (coming off the sticks of 12 different players) while giving up just one goal, and have worn down their opponents, but physically and in spirit, with their relentless skating, depth and forechecking.

“We’re always looking to get better somehow,” said second line center Graham Doherty, 16, who scored his second and third goals of the young season Saturday, both with the man advantage. “Angling an opponent off, getting more shots on net ... whatever it is, we want to be better at it.”

If not for the acrobatics of senior captain Joe Powers (38 saves) in the Peabody goal, this would have been a rout much earlier. The Tanners’ big defensemen did a good job of keeping the Panthers outside of prime scoring areas for the first period, but the home team’s relentlessness and wave after wave of attackers eventually wore them down.

The Irving cousins, captains Andrew (1 goal, 3 assists) and Connor (2 goals, 2 assists) had their usual explosive games up front and have combined for seven goals and 15 assists in three games. Both of Connor Irving’s tallies were special teamers; the first on a 5-on-3 convert out front; the second on a beautiful shorthanded breakaway.

In addition to Doherty’s two tallies and one assist, freshman Hunter Spencer notched his first varsity goal and defenseman Nick Albano contributed a helper. Junior Bryce Mitchell, in his first start this winter, stopped all 19 shots he saw for the shutout.

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