GLOUCESTER — The championship of the 6th annual Cape Ann Savings Bank Holiday Tournament was a game of opportunity: Beverly made the most of theirs and goalie Tim Birarelli made sure Marblehead couldn’t do the same.
As a result, the Panthers skated away with a 4-1 win and their second straight tournament championship.
Leading 2-1 in the second, Beverly took momentum for good in a 20 second span. Marblehead’s Joe Newall came in alone and Birarelli forced him to shoot high, missing the tying goal. At the other end, Connor Irving beat Header goalie Myles Barry with a backhand to give Beverly a crucial two goal advantage.
“This was a tight game right to end, the kind of game that’s good for the kids,” said Beverly coach Bob Gilligan, his team unbeaten at 5-0 and winners of 15 straight regular season contests dating back to last season.
Beverly senior Andrew Irving was named tournament MVP after factoring in all four Beverly scores with a goal and three assists. He had eight points (three goals, five assists) in the two tourney games.
Marblehead (3-2) had several chances to make it a one goal game in the final minute of the third but Birarelli (25 saves) stood tall.
“There was one opportunity with 40 seconds left and I don’t know how he saved it,” said Headers coach Bob Jackson.
Marblehead carried the play for much of the first 30 minutes but had a tough time getting the puck by Birarelli, who made 11 saves in the first and was particularly strong against shots from the high-percentage scoring areas.
“That save at the end? Are you kidding me? We gave Timmy a game puck and he deserved it. He was unbelievable,” Gilligan said.
The Panthers rode stellar special teams play to victory. Beverly got its first goal on a power play tally by Matt Hamor in the first, was a perfect 2-for-2 on the penalty kill and got the game-winner on Andrew Irving’s second shorthanded goal in as many nights in the second.