SALEM — An honor roll student who gets A’s and B’s at Beverly High School, it wasn’t hard for Ryan Santo to do the math while the game was going on.
Shot after shot he put on Miles Barry last night, but the Marblehead goaltender denied him at every opportunity. Eight times Santo fired the puck towards the Headers’ goal, and eight times Barry turned him away.
But Santo’s persistence paid off, resulting in one of the biggest goals — and wins — of the Beverly High hockey season.
Finishing off a odd-man rush, Santo took a feed from captain Connor Irving and roofed the game-winner into the Marblehead cage with just 3:38 to play, giving the unbeaten Panthers a thrilling 4-3 victory over the resilient Headers at the Rockett Arena.
“It was starting to feel like nothing I did was going to put the puck in the net,” said the 17-year-old Santo. “But scoring at the end like that made it all worth it.”
Beverly (14-0-1), which dominated both in puck possession and shots on goal (a whopping 41-10 advantage), never led until Santo’s game-winner. Right wing Jesse MacLaughlin shot up ice into the Marblehead zone and fed Irving in the slot. The slick pivot drew the Headers’ defenseman towards him before dishing off to Santo on his left, and the portsider buried his third goal of the season in dramatic fashion.
“I was gunning down the middle and cut left, and Connor put a perfect pass on my stick. I didn’t have much time (to shoot), so I looked up quickly, saw the top right part of the net was wide open and did my best to put it up there,” said Santo.
“I’ve never had a feeling like that before; it’s the most exciting goal I’ve ever scored. For it to happen on Senior Night, too ... I’m speechless.”