By Matt Williams
---- — SALEM — The wins, and the points both on the scoresheet and in the standings, continued to pile up for the Beverly girls hockey team at the Rockett Arena last night, where the Panthers remained unbeaten on the season by thrashing rival Marblehead, 7-1.
The Panthers (13-0-1) haven’t lost in the first 14 games of the season, the longest unbeaten streak in program history. They’re one of three unbeaten girls teams in the state (along with Woburn and Wellesley) and also held onto first place in the GEIMHL Northeast Division.
Beverly isn’t getting bogged down by visions of a perfect season, however. The tone set by captains Katie Szela and Livvy Konaxis is about competition — the Panthers thrive on any chance to compete.
“Day in and day out. Sometimes, that’s hard to find but not with this group,” Beverly coach Brian Seabury said. “They’re really competitive. Livvy and Katie have been around long enough to see some ups and downs, and they see the opportunity this year. They’ve seized it and run with it to make sure they get the most out of their senior season.”
Sophomore Karen Hovey scored the first two goals of the game yesterday and Anna O’Neill (two goals, assist), Nicole Woods (goal, two assists) and Konaxis (goal, two assists) all collected three points in a game Beverly controlled from the outset.
Marblehead (8-8-1) lost its third straight and never seemed to have a jump in their step, or the puck on their sticks. Beverly limited the Lady Headers to 14 shots on goal, weeks after Marblehead was the only team to net more than two goals against the Panthers (Beverly won that meeting, 5-3).
“We all have to reflect right now on what we can each do better,” Marblehead coach Emily Hudak said of her team’s recent struggles. “We’re not playing like we can play. It feels like we’re forgetting things that we know.”
Lady Header captain Brittany Smith couldn’t play due to an injury and Hudak was hopeful she could be back for Saturday’s game against Masconomet.
Beverly, meanwhile, is dealing with an injury to second line center Nicole Kamens. Hovey picked up the slack by scoring twice in the first period, with both goals assisted by Rachel Trocchi and Woods. O’Neill, a freshman, made it 3-0 with 1:54 left in the first, assisted by defenseman Caitlin McBride and Konaxis.
Marblehead got on the board with 1:00 left in the first when Abby Dimare’s snap shot beat Beverly goalie Ami Thompson, who was otherwise flawless and made 13 saves.
The Panthers completely controlled the second, though, and put the game away with Kristen McCarthy’s diving shorthanded goal at 6:44 of the period. O’Neill added a breakaway goal she tucked through netminder Sabrina Doughman’s pads at 8:27 that made it 5-1.
“We used some different combinations and it was great to get everybody involved,” said Seabury, who saw seven skaters register points.
One of the highlights for Marblehead came when they killed off 80 seconds of a 5-on-3 Beverly advantage late in the second period, with Brittany Lydon and Caroline Hughes doing excellent penalty killing work. The Lady Headers couldn’t cash in on any of five power play chances, though, and the only goals of the third came from Konaxis and Woods.
“Beverly’s a good team. They always keep the puck moving and they move it fast,” said Hudak. “They outshot us, by a lot, and when you have more shots you’re usually going to have more goals.”
Doughman stopped 12 of the 17 shots she faced for Marblehead and Ally Hopkins saved 12 of 14 after coming in midway through the second.