The Beverly and Masconomet girls ice hockey teams both set program records for regular season wins and earned seeds near the top of the Division 1 state tournament bracket, released by the MIAA on Saturday.
Still, both local entries are heading to postseason feeling like they have something to prove.
The Panthers (16-2-2) are seeded No. 2 in the 26-team Division 1 field, with the Masconomet Chieftains (14-4-2) coming in at No. 5. Both clubs earned preliminary round byes and will take the ice against opponents to be determined next weekend.
Yet both the lack of postseason success of their league, the GEMIHL, and their relative strength of schedule have Beverly and Masconomet a bit overlooked heading into the tournament.
”Even though we have a high seed, we could really be the underdogs,” said Masco coach Nicole Twomey, whose team will host Hingham or Austin Prep at either Governor’s Academy in Byfield or Gloucester’s Talbot Rink next weekend.
”We know people know about schedules and ratings, and there are those whispers and doubters out there. That’s what your want. It’s just more motivation.”
Beverly, which will host either Medway or Medford next weekend, began the season 16-0-2 before dropping its last two games of the season. The regular season finale against third-seeded and well-regarded Westford Academy gives the Panthers confidence heading into the playoffs, however; the Grey Ghosts scored a 5-on-3 goal with four minutes left in the third to break a 1-1 tie and added an empty netter. Beverly had close to 30 shots on net and proved that they can play with a top team.
”Win, lose or draw we’re better for having faced them,” said Beverly head coach Brian Seabury. “I was interested to see how we’d react after our first loss and we played great. We came back strong and had great competitive spirit.”