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Thursday, December 16, 2010
No. 23 Peabody opens title defense with win

By Scott Barboza



PEABODY, Mass. -- After raising their 2009-10 Northeastern Conference championship banner to the rafters, it took a while for Peabody High hockey’s title defense to swing into full gear Tuesday night.

The No. 23 Tanners were out-shot (14-5) and out-played through the first period by league rival Winthrop. However, Peabody goaltender Derek Savage rode out the storm and his team went to the break in a scoreless tie.

Although the Vikings got on the board first during the second period, the Tanners stepped up their forecheck and asserted their physical brand of play while scoring the next three goals and taking a 3-1 win in a chippy season-opener.

“They definitely had us back on our heels to start there,” Peabody head coach Mark Leonard said. “But as the game wore on, our forecheck picked up and I thought we had the better of the play in the third.

“I challenged them after the first period. I wasn’t happy and neither were they.”

Winthrop (0-1-1, 0-1-0) broke the stalemate midway through the second period when Chris Leblanc fired a one-timer that trickled through Savage’s pads and barely snuck past the goal line. Joseph Scarfo had the assist.

The Tanners (1-0-0) responded little more than a minute later on Ryan Noftle’s goal set up by Tom Marmiani and Tommy Burns.

“That’s been our problem, we’re not capitalizing on our chances, especially early in the game,” Vikings head coach Dale Dunbar said. “We’re letting teams hang around. I thought they did a nice job with their physical presence, taking us off pucks and changing the momentum of the game.”

Marmiani got on the score sheet again, netting what would prove the game-winning goal 2:36 into the third period. He banged home the rebound off a shot from the point by defenseman Eric Muise.

“He told us to keep working hard, get everything to the net, play the body and play physical,” Marmiani said of Leonard’s message to the team at the first intermission.

Peabody added an insurance marker later in the third on the power play. Connor Purcell knocked home a rebound with assists going to Nico Manganiello and Muise, who picked up his second point of the night while contributing steady play on the Tanners’ specialty units.

Meanwhile, the defense tightened in front of Savage, limiting chances. The senior netminder finished with 25 saves while earning the win.

“It was a great game, as it always is against those guys,” Leonard said. “We’re very evenly matched and we knew that one play here or there could make the difference in the game. There weren’t many mistakes, it was just a hard-fought game both ways.”

CLEARING OUT THE CREASE