PEABODY — Half of the old barn at the jam-packed McVann-O’Keefe Rink yesterday consisted of Peabody High fans who were delirious with joy. The other half was filled with Beverly High fans who sat in stunned silence.
There was, however, one thing that both fan bases had in common: Everyone seemed to be in disbelief as to what they were actually watching.
But it was no dream; it actually happened.
Scoring five answered goals, the upstart Peabody Tanners pulled off the shocker of the winter season, stunning the previously unbeaten Beverly Panthers, 5-3, in the 26th annual Carlin Cup.
When the final buzzer sounded, Peabody’s players bounded off their bench and sprinted toward goaltender Joe Powers. The senior captain made 31 saves in his final home game for the Tanners (6-11-2), including 13 in a frantic third period.
The game, played annually in memory of “The Father of Peabody High Hockey,” Charlie Carlin, saw his daughter, Janet, present the Peabody captains with the championship Cup after yesterday’s contest.
It was an upset of seismic proportions; the hosts had but five wins on the season coming into the game, while the Garden City visitors (now 15-1-1) had only given up as many as three goals in a game once the entire season.
“Words can’t describe it ... the whole team is ecstatic,” Peabody captain Matt McIsaac, whose goal with 69 seconds to play in the first period got his team on the board and sliced into Beverly’s 2-0 lead. “To win this (Carlin Cup) game against one of the best teams in the state is just unbelievable.”
Peabody’s top line of Mike Vadala centering Andrew “Biscuits” Bisconti and McIsaac combined for three goals and four assists. The speedy Vadala, who had a monster game with a goal and three helpers, scored a shorthanded tally when he snuck through the slot off a hard forecheck, took a pass from Bisconti and roofed a shot glove side over Beverly’s Bryce Mitchell (16 saves), tying the score at 2-2 in the second.