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Sports

December 19, 2011

Decisive Victory

Irving helps Beverly pull off a trick on Danvers

SALEM — Connor Irving admits it was indecisiveness that hurt him when he was denied by Danvers High goalie Seth Kamens on a second period breakaway Saturday night at the Rockett Arena.

Given a rare second chance to go mano-a-mano with the Falcons’ netminder, Irving wasn’t about to let it slip away again.

Sent in alone a period later on another breakaway, Irving made this one count as the Beverly High sophomore going to his backhand to beat Kamens for a backbreaking shorthanded goal. He finished with his first varsity hat trick as the Panthers scored four times in the final period to knock off Danvers, 6-2, before 600 or so fans in their season opener.

“I got caught in between going forehand or backhand, so I tried to go forehand and lift the puck up, but (Kamens) got his right pad on it,” said Irving, who finished the game with four points. “He’s a good goalie, and that was a nice save.

“But I learned my lesson, and the next time I went to my backhand. Kevin Lally made a nice chip off the boards and the puck luckily hopped over a Danvers guy’s stick right to me. I got it, caught (Kamens) sliding across the crease and just slid it in.”

That goal gave Beverly some breathing room, as the hosts would go on to score twice more to salt the game away. They also seemed to wear down the Falcons with their physical play.

Trailing 2-0 early in the second period, Danvers (1-1) had tied the game on power play goals by Tyler Dustin in the final minute of the second and A.J. Couto at 2:43 of the third. But Irving snapped the tie with 10:40 to play when he roofed a rebound in the crease up and over Kamens (19 saves).

Playing left wing on the Panthers’ top line as opposed to his normal position at center, Irving meshed well with linemates Jake Straw on the right side and captain Brenden Mitchell at center.

“I’ve played with Jake for the last 6-7 years and have played with Brenden too; we all work well together and are all great friends, too,” said Irving, who also took some faceoffs Saturday.

Following Irving’s shorthanded tally, fellow sophomore Matt Hamor scored on a 5-on-3 power play with five-and-a-half minutes to play before Irving iced it with an empty netter.

“I’m happy that we battled back and got a bit of momentum, but just like that they got the momentum back,” said Danvers head coach Kevin Brown of the decisive third period. “That’s high school sports; (momentum) comes and goes very quickly.

“For us, we have to be mentally tough and physically tough every game. That’s a challenge for us; we need to be tough for other teams to play against. That means blocking more shots, clogging lanes, sacrificing yourself.”

Irving’s cousin, junior captain Andrew Irving, also had a big game with a goal and two assists. Freshman Nick Albano finished with a goal and an assist and Mitchell had two helpers.

Freshman goaltender Tim Biarelli, in his first varsity game, was more than up to the task at hand by stopping 21 shots.

All in all, not a bad start for a Beverly High team that dresses just two seniors and two juniors.

“There’s certainly room to improve, but we had a lot of nice performances,” Beverly head coach Bob Gilligan said. “Tim was very strong for his first game; our young defense (Jack Morency, Sean Munzing, Andrew Irving and Hamor) were all strong; Connor can really go when he gets the puck, and we had some great penalty killing from guys like Lally.”

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