MEDFORD — The Peabody/Lynnfield girls hockey team survived a dominant effort by the Melrose Red Raiders last Saturday and somehow, some way, thanks to a stellar effort in goal by Abby Buckley of Lynnfield, came out with a point with a 2-2 tie in the season opener at Flynn Rink.
The Red Raiders out-skated, out-hustled and outplayed the Tanners in nearly every phase of the game, yet Buckley took everything the Raiders threw at her and kept the game in check. She made more than 50 saves, including 25 in the second period alone when Peabody failed to put a single shot on goal. She had a little help from the Tanners’ penalty kill unit, which killed four penalties in the third period, three of them coming in back-to-back-to-back style, when the Tanners had play shorthanded for six minutes over a 6:27 span midway through the period.
The Tanners looked to have locked up, at worst, a tie, when, with 2:26 to go, Melrose captain Sam Kroon was sent to the penalty box for slashing. But Peabody returned the favor with a hooking penalty with 1:38 to go, giving Melrose a man up advantage for the final 26 seconds of the game.
Thanks to Buckley, however, who made three game-saving stops, including one with a second to go, Peabody escaped with a tie.
“Abby played tremendously in net and kept us in the game,” said Peabody coach Michelle Roach. “She really came to play tonight and because she played so well we were able to walk away from this game with a point. She really stepped up for us in a big way, that’s for sure.
“I think there were at least four penalties in that third period, and at two minutes apiece, we can’t spend eight minutes of the period in the box. Penalty kill got the job done, so that was one of the good things we can take away from the game into next week.”
Peabody put only four shots on goal the entire game, but made the most of them. Sophomore Sammie Mirasolo (from Mae Norton) staked the Tanners to a 1-0 lead at the 12:15 mark of the first period, while older sister Cassie, a senior captain, netted the equalizer with 13:40 left in the final period.
Down 1-0 after the first period, Melrose came out on fire in the second period. Emily Crovo slipped one past Buckley just 24 seconds in to tie the game, 1-1. Two minutes later Rachel DiFraia broke in alone on Buckley, but her backhanded flip was swatted away by Buckley. DiFraia had another open shot about 90 seconds later, but Buckley again denied her and covered up the loose puck in traffic in the crease. Saoirse Connolly finally broke through at the 9:09 mark to put the Raiders on top, 2-1.
Melrose had a golden opportunity to extend its lead when it had a 5-on-3 advantage for 1:25 late in the period, but could not get one past Buckley.
Peabody started the third period with a 46 second man up advantage, but could not get anything going. It finally got a shot on net, its first in nearly 20 minutes, about a minute in, when Sammie Mirasolo fired off a weak wrist shot. The rebound was tucked in by sister Cassie to tie the game at 2-2 with 13:40 to go.
After that, Peabody had one foot on the gallows and the other on a banana peel, playing shorthanded for six of the next 6:27.
With 12:50 to go, Peabody went a man down with a high stick penalty on Sarah Buckley. Thirteen seconds after killing it off, Jess Robert was sent to the box for boarding. Buckley made the save of the game when she scrambled to block a shot by Itia Figuera, who had an open look on a rebound on the short side. Fourteen seconds after returning to full strength, Robert was sent back to the box for hooking. But again, the Tanners penalty kill unit got the job done, with a helping hand from Buckley.
“Abby was just unbelievable tonight, I mean that one save when the girl had the whole back door open, I don’t know how Abby made it over there to make the save,” Roach said.