SALEM — State tournament games can run the gamut of emotions, ranging from unpredictable upsets to spectacular last-second finishes.
But rarely, if ever, are they lacking in suspense or intrigue.
Last night proved to be the exception.
Leaving little doubt as to what the final outcome would be, the Danvers High hockey team scored twice on its first four shots and completely dominated in every facet of the contest, rolling to a 9-1 victory over Somerville in a Division 2 North first round playoff game at Rockett Arena.
“We had a good win over Triton (in their last regular season game) and some really good practices leading up to this game,” said senior left wing A.J. Couto, who finished with a team-high three goals and five points last night. He also had a plus-minus of a staggering plus-6 for the game, and now leads the team in both goals (21) and total points (30).
Finishing with 47 shots on goal while allowing just eight, eighth-seeded Danvers (11-6-4) scored four times in the first period and added their fifth goal just 17 seconds into the second period, chasing Somerville goalie Sergey Markelov from the game. They added two more goals in the middle frame and two more over the final 15 minutes to set team records for most goals in a postseason game and largest margin of victory in the playoffs.
Now, the Falcons get what they hoped for when the playoff seedings were released: a third matchup this season with top-seeded Beverly (18-1-1) Friday at O’Brien Rink in Woburn (6 p.m.). Danvers, which lost a pair of games to their NEC North rivals in the regular season (3-0 and 4-2), have never met the Panthers before in the postseason.
In addition to Couto’s monster night, fellow Black Line members Rob Buchanan (2 goals, 2 assists) and captain Joe Strangie (4 assists) both finished plus-5 on the night, as did sophomore defenseman Mike Disciullo.