SALEM — The Swampscott High hockey team started off with a bang in the first minute of play Saturday afternoon against unbeaten Beverly.
But for the remainder of the game, all the explosiveness came from the Panthers.
Griffin Hunt took advantage of a misplayed puck at the Beverly point and beat netminder Tim Birarelli blocker side on a breakaway to give the Big Blue a one-goal lead less than a minute in. Before the period was over, however, Beverly took the lead and would dominate the rest of the way, handing Swampscott just its second loss in a 4-1 win.
“Naturally you don’t want to let anything like that (first Swampscott goal) happen,” explained Beverly (11-0-1) head coach Bob Gilligan. “But we came back after that.”
Beverly controlled play for the rest of the contest and spent a majority of the time in the Swampscott defensive zone. It may have been only a three-goal game, but the Panthers held a whopping 39-9 shot advantage.
“They’re a good team. They move the puck well; we did everything we could to try and defend them,” noted Big Blue (9-2) head man Gino Faia. “We just couldn’t generate any offense.”
Swampscott was playing shorthanded without seniors Trevor Massey on defense or Corey Carmody at forward. But even when Beverly was on the penalty kill, the Big Blue simply couldn’t set up in the offensive zone and sustain any real pressure in front of Birarelli. Both times Swampscott went man-up in the third period, it failed to get a single shot on net.
“I think we were just pressing,” said Faia. “We’ve been actually working the power play pretty well lately; we just weren’t making good decisions with the puck (Saturday) and kind of panicking and turning it over.”
When they were on the penalty kill, Panther forwards Kevin Lally, Graham Doherty, Connor Irving and Andrew Irving did a phenomenal job of being aggressive and harassing the Swampscott forwards in the neutral zone and as soon as they gained the offensive zone.