PEABODY — The Marblehead High girls are one of the most established girls hockey programs around, while Peabody is still trying to find its footing.
Both teams came away from yesterday’s opener feeling pretty good, with the Lady Headers doubling up the host Tanners, 9-4, at McVann-O’Keefe rink.
The Tanners (0-1) improved in every period and battled Marblehead to a 2-2 tie in the third.
“It’s certainly not the Peabody teams of the past,” said Lady Headers coach Emily Hudak. “We knew coming in that they were really an improved team — and that showed.”
Peabody tied it at 1-1 in the early going and made Marblehead sweat a bit by making it 4-2 midway through the second. The Lady Headers, however, responded less than a minute later on two of Peabody’s four goals, putting their foot on the gas pedal when necessary.
Junior captain Rachel McKay totaled six points for Marblehead on two goals and four assists. Her center, Meg Gray, had a goal and an assist and winger freshman Brittany Lydon had two goals and a cross-crease assist to McKay in her Marblehead debut.
“That line looked like they’d been together all season,” Hudak said. “They were out there talking and clicking, and that’s what you want.”
Courtney Smith factored in three of Peabody’s four tallies, scoring twice and assisting on Courtney Cavanaugh’s goal. Captain Waverly Cohen had a pair of assists for the Tanners, and Sophia Post had a goal and an assist in her first game as a Tanner.
“I was very pleased. The girls did a great job, and that first line (Smith, Cohen and Post) played awesome,” said Peabody coach Larry Minehan. “That was not a 9-4 game in terms of the skating.”
Marblehead captain Brittany Smith had two goals and an assist, including an end-to-end rush that made it 3-1 and put the Lady Headers in the driver’s seat.
The young players got in on the action for Marblehead, with eighth-grader Halle McKay getting her first career goal assisted by big sister Rachel. Eighth-grader Olivia Fusegni got her first goal, as well, assisted by sixth-grader Sydney Cresta.
In all, 10 Marblehead players had points on the night.
“It’s really nice having those younger kids because they’re eager. They work and they go out there, keep their feet moving and wreak havoc and stuff,” Hudak said. “They’re like little pests out there.”
Peabody got some excellent defense from Ciara DiSalvo, who blocked two shots and made a nice move to deny what would’ve been a Brittany Smith breakaway early in the first. Partner Bella Piscatelli also played well, and Minehan was pleased with the way the defensive pair of Kaydee Purcell (assist) and Hannie Aylward adjusted to the speed of the high school game.
“We looked good. We have some things that we need to learn, but we’re leaving the rink feeling OK,” Minehan said.
The Tanners started Joanna Ambeliotis in net, and she made 17 saves, including one she snatched out of the air with confidence in the second. Eighth-grader Jillian McCormick played the second half of the game and made 12 stops.
Marblehead also employed two goalkeepers, with Sabrina Doughman picking up the win with eight saves. Aly Hopkins played the second half of the game and stopped two shots.
“We came in knowing we wanted to split the game. We want Sabrina and Aly to push each other in practice, keep working on their fundamentals and keep helping each other get better,” Hudak said.
Doughman’s best save came when she denied Post’s laser shot on a 2-on-1 bid with Cohen. “Those two made some very nice passes to each other,” Minehan said.