PEABODY – Both the Saugus and Peabody High hockey teams desperately needed a win yesterday, but had to settle for a hard fought tie instead.
The come-from-behind stalemate was satisfying for Peabody coach Mark Leonard, who liked the way his team fought back by scoring twice in the final period to salvage a 4-4 draw. But it was disappointing for Saugus coach Jeff Natalucci after his club couldn’t protect a two-goal lead.
The Tanners capitalized on a four-minute major penalty for boarding to get the tying goal with just over a minute remainin. Junior Derek DeMild, (2 goals, giving him a team-leading 9 points in 7 games) fought hard to gain possession behind the Saugus net before passing to linemate Mike Vadala. He slid the puck back to the point for senior defenseman Chris Minter, who uncorked a wicked slapshot that Saugus goalie David Aiken never saw.
Peabody remained on the power play, but it was Saugus that had the last bid to win the game when Anthony Cieri went in alone on a shorthanded breakaway with seconds remaining. Tanner goalie Joe Powers made a great kick save, however, to keep the game tied and deny Cieri a hat trick.
“We came back and outplayed Saugus in the third period,” said Leonard. “We had a horrible first period and were outplayed late in the second giving up two quick goals, but I’m so proud of the kids for responding the way they did. This team showed a lot of character because it would have been easy to quit when we fell behind. We’re glad to get the point ... and we’ll build off it.”
The Tanners totally dominated play in the final 15 minutes, outshooting the Sachems 19-4. They cut the deficit to 4-3 when DeMild picked up his second goal of the game at the 59-second mark.
“DeMild had an excellent game,” said Leonard. “That goal was huge because it gave us momentum. We peppered their net the whole period.”
The Tanners never led, but came from behind three times to knot it up.
Cieri gave Saugus a 1-0 late in the first period before DeMild tied it up early in the second, but Victor DeMatteo answered off a rebound to give the Sachems (1-5-1) the lead back. A one-timer by Matt McIsaac tied the game for Peabody once more, but two quick goals by Saugus in 22 seconds in the final minute of the period gave the visitors a two-goal advantage after 30 minutes.
Leonard had changed up his lines earlier in the week, putting Vadala at center on the first line between Ryan Carney and McIssac. He also moved DeMild into the middle on the second line with Erik Hennessey and Tyler Gillespie on the wings.
“I think changing the lines up really helped,” he said. “Putting DeMild in the middle was a key; he did a nice job on the faceoffs and used his power. That whole line was great. McIssac had a nice goal, too, on a low hard shot into the corner.”