By Phil Stacey
---- — SAUGUS — It's a word that the Beverly High hockey team should be well used to hearing by now:
It's a slow-it-down, muck-it-up style of play that many teams try to employ against the high octane Panthers, hoping to frustrate them while also keeping them off the scoreboard. A smaller, speedy Saugus team tried that tactic Saturday night at the Kasabuski Arena, but as most of Beverly's previous foes have found out, it proved to be a futile exercise.
In an extremely chippy contest, the Orange-and-Black scored three times in the middle period and held the Sachems to just seven shots on goal in pitching their seventh shutout of the season, winning 4-0.
"We just have to keep working at getting better and beating that trap," said Beverly head coach Bob Gilligan, whose team has scored 70 goals in 14 games while allowing just 10. "Teams are going to be trying to slow us down the rest of the way, so we've got to keep fighting through it and win those battles."
Unbeaten Beverly (13-0-1), which hadn't played in a week, got a first period tally from junior winger Jake Straw before Nate MacLaughlin, Ryan Santo (shorthanded) and defenseman Nick Albano all connected in the second stanza. Connor Irving and Graham Doherty both had a pair of assists as the Panthers cranked out 46 shots on Saugus netminder David Aiken.
Andrew Irving and Santo both had one assist each while defenseman Sean Munzing drew praise from his coaches for his steady, no-nonsense play.
Beverly's own keeper, sophomore Tim Biarelli, pitched his fifth shutout this winter. He faced one shot in the first period, four in the second and just two over the final 15 minutes of play.
This marked the second time that the Panthers had shut out Saugus this season, including a 7-0 blanking over the Sachems back in December at Salem State.
"Defensively we're stepping up into the neutral zone puck-side and not giving (teams) anything," said Gilligan. "As long as the backchecker is there on the other side, we're really not letting teams even get into our zone."
Beverly is now off for another week before it travels to the Larsen Rink in Winthrop to take on the host Vikings (7-3-4) this Saturday at 5:10 p.m.