SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

Sports

February 14, 2013

Within the Panthers' Grasp

Unbeaten Beverly hockey beats Danvers; nearing 1st NEC title in 23 years

SALEM — Way back in early December, when the Beverly High hockey team made a preseason weekend trip to play on Martha’s Vineyard, the players were each asked to write down some of their goals for the upcoming season.

To a man, the Panther players had two similar wishes: win the Northeastern Conference North title and finish the regular season unbeaten.

They now find themselves on the cusp of achieving both.

“Obviously we all want to make it to the (TD) Garden and play for a state championship. But those other goals come first,” said sophomore goalie Tim Biarelli, who had a season high 30 saves as the Panthers doubled up their NEC North rivals from Danvers, 4-2, before the usual packed house at the Rockett Arena last night.

The victory gave the unbeaten Panthers (14-0-1) complete command in the conference standings; they sit at 7-0 within the league, three points ahead of Danvers with a game in hand. A victory back at Salem State this Saturday against Gloucester would give the Orange-and-Black their first league championship in hockey since 1990.

To put that time frame in perspective, it would be five years before any of the current BHS players were born; assistant coach Justin Shairs was in the third grade; and the Bruins would play in the Stanley Cup final that season ... against the Mark Messier-led Edmonton Oilers juggernaut.

“We really tried to be physical out there right out of the gates and get the crowd into it,” added junior right wing Jake Straw, who had one of his best performances of the season with a goal and an assist while skating on the top line for the first time. “This was our game.”

In gaining a season sweep of the Falcons, Beverly wore specially-made pink uniforms for this ‘Pink The Rink’ night that drew attention to fighting cancer (which head coach Bobby Gilligan has done for the last two years). Many of the Danvers players worn pink hockey tape over their shin pads and on their sticks as well.

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