By Phil Stacey
---- — PEABODY — It would’ve been hard to ask for much more in a season-opening game.
Dominating in all three zones, Danvers scored three goals in the middle frame while holding host Lynnfield to a grand total of six shots on goal to easily win their season opener, 4-0, last night at the newly refurbished McVann-O’Keefe Rink.
The defending Northeastern Conference Large champion Falcons went 2-for-3 on the power play as senior left wing A.J. Couto tallied both man-up scores and assisted an even strength marker.
Junior center Trevor Daly ripped the twine for his first varsity marker and senior right wing Adam Merry — who opted for Junior hockey the last two years — netted his first Danvers High goal.
Sophomore goalie Alex Taylor earned a goose egg in his first varsity start.
“We definitely wanted to make a statement,” said Couto, “knowing that we were the only game going on (locally) and a lot of other teams would be here watching us. We know we’ll have a bull’s-eye on our backs all season, so we wanted to show other teams what we can do.”
The goals for Daly and Merry were the first of their respective Falcon careers. “We’ll be giving out a lot of game pucks for firsts tonight,” said head coach Kevin Brown.
With just five varsity regulars back for new head coach John Gardner, Lynnfield skated well but couldn’t put any sustained pressure on Danvers. The Pioneers had just one shot in each of the first two periods before getting four off over the final 15 minutes of play. They also didn’t produce a single shot on goal in any of their three power play opportunities.
After both teams worked out the early-game jitters, Danvers started to establish itself physically, generating several good scoring chances as the first period wore on. They finally broke through 2:28 into the second period when Daly grabbed a Tyler Dustin pass and beat Lynnfield goalie Joe Bossi 5-hole on a wraparound.
Couto’s first power play marker came three-and-a-half minutes later, with Merry and captain Joe Strangie assisting. Playing down low, he grabbed a loose puck and drew it back ever so slightly before beating Bossi low along the ice.
Merry finished off a pretty 2-on-1 breakaway before the period was over to make it 3-0 and put the Falcons in complete control.
“We played hard at the end of the first period, and that set the tone for the rest of the game,” said Brown. “We really played well in that second period; that first line was really clicking and communicating.”
Couto, playing on that top line with Strangie and Merry, scored his second tally with 11:26 to play when he tipped captain Rob Buchanan’s right point shot perfectly through Bossi’s pads on the man advantage.
“I try to angle my tips where I think I’ll have the best chance (to score),” said the 17-year-old Couto, who is hoping to play college baseball at either Southern Maine, Salem State or Endicott. “(Bossi) was standing up tall a lot, so I tried to go 5-hole with the tip and it worked.”
Senior defenseman Kevin Anderson had fine first game of the season, blocking pucks and helping to jump start the Danvers offense.