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PEABODY — In a tough Northeastern Conference, teams don’t have much time to get their bearings as the new season opens up. Every game is a battle, and the Peabody/Lynnfield girls hockey team learned that first-hand Wednesday night at McVann-O’Keefe Rink, where the Tanners held on to beat Marblehead, 3-2.
It was a hectic finish in Peabody, as the Magicians earned a power play with 2:11 to play, and coach Chris Wells pulled his goalie for a 6-on-4 advantage. But Peabody goalie Abby Buckley (29 saves) turned away a few tough shots late, and Sammie Mirasolo poked the puck free and got it out of the Tanners’ defensive end to buy some time and run out the clock.
“That was not the ideal situation,” Peabody coach Michelle Roach said. “It comes down to really knowing where we’re supposed to be and who has who, fundamental hockey, making sure have enough coverage. I’m very proud of our effort, we just have to pick up bodies and get girls out in front of net.”
The Tanners took an early 1-0 lead about five minutes into the first period. Sammie Mirasolo brought the puck up from the neutral zone and fired off a shot. Marblehead goalie Grace Bertagna turned it away, but Cassie Mirasolo, Sammie’s older sister, was there to put it away.
“It’s their second year playing together, and they move really well together,” Roach said of the Mirasolo sisters. “Their styles complement each other. They’re really different players, but putting them together makes that line strong. We added Paige Thibedeau to that line too, and she’s been great.”
Marblehead, which dominated possession throughout the period, got one back with 4:10 to play in the first. First, Grace Moroney came up with a couple of good chances, but Buckley turned away both shots. The Magicians kept up the pressure, and finally Sydney Cresta broke through on an assist from Moroney.
Almost immediately after the ensuing faceoff, Marblehead went on a power play, but that didn’t matter much for the Tanners. Fifteen seconds into the power play, Sammie Mirasolo scored a shorthanded goal on a breakaway to give the Tanners the lead back.
The second period was relatively uneventful, but Peabody started it on the right foot, as Jen Flynn notched her first varsity goal to bump the lead to 3-1. It’d end up being the difference, as Marblehead responded with a goal in the third. Moroney scored early in the third to cut into the lead at 3-2.
The Magicians looked poised to tie the game, putting pressure on the Tanners throughout the third period.
“That third period, I thought we had them on their heels,” Wells said. “Going into that period I told the girls we needed to pick it up. (Peabody was) physical and we needed to be too. I thought we were going to get them, especially with that power play at the end.”
Cassie Mirasolo was sent to the box for tripping with just over two minutes to play, but the Tanners held off a late Magicians push.
“This being our first game, I think Peabody had a good team returning, they’re a little older than us, bigger than us and stronger than us,” Wells said after his first game as the head coach of the Magicians (0-1). “They did a good job of keeping us to the outside and not letting our girls get into the net, and they were physical. We’re not as strong and big as some teams, but we have to find a way to battle through that.”
The Tanners improve to 1-0-1, and will take on Winthrop this Saturday.
“This kind of game will absolutely help us down the road,” Roach said. “We have tough league opponents and we just have to jump right into this competitive schedule. We have to bring this mentality to every game.”