But it was the Tanners’ third line — specifically sophomore left wing Ryan Carney — who snapped home the eventual game-winner, giving his team a 4-2 lead with just 9:47 remaining.
“I think once they started feeling comfortable playing, they were OK,” said Peabody head coach Mark Leonard of his Tanners. “They were all over us for most of the first period, but (McIssac’s) goal late in the period had them believing. And then Mikey tying it up in the second period was just huge.”
“I’m sure they didn’t expect a team like us to take them down,” Bisconti added.
The Northeastern Conference North champion Panthers seemed to realize too late that Peabody was, in fact, capable of winning this game. The Orange-and-Black had taken the lead just 16 seconds in when captain Andrew Irving converted a feed from his cousin Connor after an offensive zone turnover, and they doubled that advantage six minutes later when junior center Graham Doherty whacked a second chance rebound under Powers’ left pad.
But when Peabody showed they weren’t going to fold, then tied and eventually took the lead in the third period, the Panthers became uncharacteristically sloppy and rushed plays, rather than setting up and letting them develop. They also went just 1-for-7 on the power play, with Connor Irving scoring with just 62 seconds to play and the outcome virtually decided by that point.
“We’ve been on Easy Street for a while and, aside from Danvers, haven’t had many tests in a while where we found ourselves in a tough spot,” said Beverly head coach Bobby Gilligan. “Give Mark and his staff all the credit in the world; their kids were well-prepared, and they played a great game. They deserved to win.
“We certainly didn’t come out in the right frame of mind to play,” added Gilligan, whose team is right back at it tonight with a contest in Winthrop. “We didn’t beat them to the puck, and I saw too many individual and discipline-type things I didn’t like. We’re just going to have to look at things and see what we can do to fix our mistakes. It’s how you deal with these bumps in the road that determine what kind of team you really are.”