SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

Sports

January 2, 2013

The Blue Line Report: Peabody facing big game tonight

If you aren’t of the mindset that a so-called ‘big’ game can be played on the second day of January during a high school hockey season, think again.

“When you only play 20 regular season games,” said Peabody head coach Mark Leonard, “every game is a big one.”

If that’s the case, then we can agree that there are varying degrees of how ‘big’ a game actually is.

For Leonard and his Tanners, tonight is a biggie.

Peabody travels across city lines to the Rockett Arena in Salem, where they’ll take on a Danvers team that is finally playing its home opener seven games into the season. It’s also the second annual Mike Clifford Memorial Game, played in honor of the former assistant coach for both programs.

While the host Falcons are crusing along quite nicely with a 4-1-1 mark this winter, Peabody has stumbled a bit. Following a 6-4 upset loss at home to Concord-Carlisle on Monday, the Tanners enter tonight’s Northeastern Conference North clash with a 1-2-1 overall mark — and can’t afford to fall two games under .500 with another setback.

“We always have great games with Danvers,” said Leonard. “Some times we beat them, some years they beat us. I coached a lot of those (Danvers) kids all summer and have a lot of respect for them, their coaches and their program.

“Obviously, there’s a trophy at stake in this game, so it’s a little more meaningful than a typical regular season game. It also gives us a chance to get right back after it after (Monday’s) game, which is great.”

After being shut out of its first two games, the Tanners have scored 10 times in their last two contests. The top line of junior left wing Derek Demild, junior center Mike Vadala and senior captain Matt McIsaac at right wing have clicked since being put together two games ago, having scored seven of those goals and combining for 15 points.

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