When you score as many goals as the Beverly girls co-operative hockey team has this winter — 103, tops in Division 1 to be exact — it’s easy to overlook defense and goaltending.
Make no mistake, though: the Panthers can defend the cage, too.
Senior goalie Ami Thompson has been both dependable and excellent for Beverly (17-2-2) during this record-setting season, and she’ll need to be both again tonight when the Panthers face defending state champion Arlington Catholic in the Division 1 quarterfinals at O’Brien Rink in Woburn (8 p.m.).
The only goalie on Beverly’s roster, Thompson has played every minute of every game this season. She has a stellar 1.19 goals-against average to go with a .921 save percentage and five shutouts. In 21 starts, she’s allowed more than two goals just three times.
Thompson moved to Beverly from Manchester, N.H., during her sophomore year. She’d learned the goaltending craft playing for a boys team in the Queen City, and based on this year’s results, the Panthers are fortunate she came to the North Shore.
”I was probably 15 when I started. My dad was coaching and they needed a goalie — and I’d always wanted to play,” Thompson said. “In the beginning it was 1-on-1 drills and stuff around the crease, then having older, more experienced guys shooting on you makes you pretty confident.”
In terms of toughness, Thompson has a unique experience: She played boys varsity football for two years when she was living in Manchester.
”Coming out of eighth grade it drew my attention and it was really fun. They never treated me like a girl,” Thompson said. “There’s not a lot about hockey that’s like football. Football is definitely a more aggressive sport — and I think it made me a more aggressive competitor.”