SALEM, Mass. -- Twice this season Marblehead had scored three or more times against Beverly, the only team to do so, and lost.
On Wednesday, with the game tied at three and less than four minutes to go, it looked as if the Magicians would finally steal a point from the Panthers.
Beverly senior Ryan Santo wristed a shot over the glove of Myles Barry with 3:18 to go to cap the Panthers' comeback and seal a 4-3 win at Rockett Arena to keep the Panthers undefeated. Beverly rallied from a two-goal first period deficit.
“The kid's got ice in his veins,” Beverly senior Graham Doherty said of Santo. “He got stoned like seven times earlier in the game; he was snake-bit for a while. He just kept his nose to the grindstone and he popped it in over his shoulder. That was amazing.”
Down by a pair early Doherty took the game by the scruff and asserted himself. Doherty solved Barry on Beverly's 16th shot to put the Panthers on the board with 30 seconds left in the first. He added another goal early in the second when he wristed home a shot from the right circle to tie the game.
“Graham's a sniper, he can shoot,” Beverly coach Bob Gilligan said. “ He's got that pro-type shot.”
Marblehead, held to only 12 shots during the game, made the most of their opportunities early. The Headers scored on two of their first three shots to open a 2-0 lead midway through the first period. Tom Koopman buried a shot to the short side of Beverly goalie Tim Birarelli to open the scoring. Erik Powers bowled past a defenseman and slid the puck between Briarelli's legs to double the lead.
After that Beverly's defense closed down and made it extremely difficult for the Magicians to get many more solid opportunities.
“That's probably the fewest shots we've had on anyone in a long time,” Marblehead coach Bob Jackson said. “I don't know if it was us not generating offense or they just did a good job of picking us up. Except for Beverly we outshoot guys. We make goalies look good.”
As the game progressed Beverly's conditioning and speed became apparent and gradually took over. The Panthers pressed hard on the forecheck throughout and it paid dividends in the end. Marblehead was unable to pull Barry for the extra attacker late in the game until there was less than 40 seconds left because the Headers could not move the puck through the neutral zone.
“We credit that to our coaches; they skate us hard every day in practice, and it pays off in the third period,” Doherty said. “We play our best hockey in the third period. We work all the time 3-on-3 forward line against forward line from the tops of the circles in in the defensive zone cycling the puck and just trying to keep it moving.”
Braden Haley gave Marblehead it's second lead with a late goal in the second period. Jesse MacLaughlin floated home a shot from the side boards to tie the game at three and set up the chaotic finish.
“It's a really good test of our character to come from behind,” Doherty said. “We were able to battle back little by little. We just stayed positive on the bench and chipped away at the lead. We never lost our confidence. We just had to keep working our game.”
SHOTS & SAVES: Beverly was able to throw 43 shots at Barry during the game and attempted dozens more. Marblehead's defense made some of those shots easier than others, but Barry was asked to do a lot between the pipes and, even in defeat, he stepped up to the moment.
“If it wasn't for Myles it could have been 10-3,” Jackson said. “It wouldn't have even been close.”
Barry dealt with wave after wave of Panther attacks early. He turned aside 15 shots in the first and 12 in the second period. Both Gilligan and Doherty were also complimentary of Barry and his talents.
“He was great,” Gilligan said. “There were a lot of shots that he came up big.”
“That was the best goalie performance we've played against all year,” Doherty said.