By Dan Harrison
---- — GLOUCESTER — The Beverly boys hockey team has flexed its muscles time and again in the early stages of the season.
Last night’s 6-3 win over previously unbeaten Triton, however, was lessabout muscle and more about guts.
Beverly had a three goal lead in the Cape Ann Savings Bank Tournament opener and began the third period on the power play before Triton was penalized again giving the Panthers a 5-on-3. The Vikings killed the penalties and proceeded to light the lamp twice in the next three minutes before junior captain Connor Irving’s goal gave Beverly enough breathing room to escape with the win.
“This is first time (this season) we’ve played a team that’s put us back on our heels,” explained Beverly (4-0) head coach Bob Gilligan. “It might have been good for us. Not that (letting Triton back in the game) was good, but we had to play with some pressure on us and I thought the kids played well.”
The killed penalties gave Triton some much needed momentum. The Vikings were flat coming out in the first two periods and didn’t record a single shot on net in the first five minutes of either period.
A Jack Norton goal in the second gave the Vikes some life and after Beverly’s unsuccessful man-up opportunities to start the third, Kyle Hillick scored twice in short order.
“We challenged them to just go out and win the period and prove to ourselves that they (Beverly) are not this juggernaut that can overwhelm you,” said Triton head coach Drew Wile. “You can play with them if you make plays and go out there and man up 1-on-1. Kind of like basketball.”
Triton nearly climbed all the way back when a shot from the point ricochetted off a body and left Beverly keeper Tim Birarelli (19 saves) off balance with a tough play to make. The sophomore stopped the fluttering puck initially with his blocker once before using it again to swat the puck over the net.
“Timmy’s got that ability,” said Gilligan. “He’s only a sophomore and he’s a big boy now so he covers the net so well. That (save) was key right there it could have been a whole different game.”
The aftermath of the scramble in front of and behind Birarelli saw mayhem break out and Beverly’s Jack Morency and the Vikings’ Josh Janvrin were given game-misconducts.
On the very next shift, junior Connor Irving and senior Andrew Irving played some give-and-go in the neutral zone before the former fired a shot past Devon Shuman to put the Panthers ahead 5-3.
Andrew Irving was the game’s top scorer with two goals and two assists while Connor added a goal and an assist.
“Those two are so strong. Puck movement, skill and skating wise they are dangerous all the time,” explained Gilligan.
Andrew Irving opened the scoring for Beverly in the first period when the Panthers were shorthanded. Connor Irving won a defensive zone faceoff and twice had to fight through checks along the boards to get the rubber out of his end. He then sent a pass to Andrew Irving in the slot and the senior captain was able to bang home his own rebound.
Andrew Irving would also score on the power-play this time with just nine seconds left in the second period when he took a slapper from the point that was too hard for Shuman to handle. The puck was initially snagged by Shuman but the force of the shot caused the puck to slip out and just across the goal line. The senior captain also assisted Nate McLaughlin’s empty netter after he moved back to defense for the last five minutes of the game with Morency’s departure.
“They (Beverly) are better than us,” noted Wile. “We got star struck and we looked foolish. Hey, kudos to them. They are the best team we’ve seen this year. But again, for 13 minutes of the third period we were neck and neck with them and maybe a little better.”
The Panthers had a really strong game out of top defensive pairing Matt Hamor and Nick Albano, who sniped a slap shot from the point to make it 2-0 in the first.
Graham Doherty made his offensive presence felt with a spectacular goal in the second period. Doherty collected a loose puck in front of the Triton net and showed great patience as he got Shuman to bite and go down to his knees before Doherty roofed it to the top corner.
“He (Doherty) has got great hands and he’s got tremendous hands around the net,” noted Gilligan. “He can do it in practice all the time and he did it the other night against Peabody. He has great skills and is really coming into his own this year.”
Beverly 6, Triton 3
at Talbot Rink, Gloucester
Beverly: 2 2 2 — 6
Triton: 0 1 2 — 3
First period: B. Andrew Irving (Connor Irving), sh, 10:44; B, Nick Albano (Kevin lally, Nate McLaughlin), 13:17
Second Period: B, Graham Doherty (Jack Morency), 2:18; T, Jack Norton (Josh Brown), 7:39; B. A. Irving (N. McLaughlin), ppg, 14:51.
Third Period: T, Kyle Hillick (un), 1:06; T, T. Hillick (Jared Salmon), ppg, 5:35; B. C. Irving (A. Irving), 7:51; B, N. McLaughlin (A. Irving), 13:37.
Saves: B, Tim Birarelli 19; T, Devon Shuman 28.
Records: B, 4-0-0; T, 3-1-0.