PEABODY — If you are going to spend a third of a hockey game in the penalty box, you better hope your penalty kill unit is a good one.
The Lynnfield boys hockey team, which spent a full 15 minutes in the penalty box in its 5-1 win over Peabody Saturday afternoon at McVann O’Keefe Rink, showed how good it is playing shorthanded. The Pioneers killed off every one of the six penalties it took, including a five minute major at the start of the final period.
They even managed to score while short-handed.
“The game was a very weird feel to it with a lot of penalties, but Chris Flannery and Kyle Nekoroski played just phenomenal,” said Lynnfield coach Jon Gardner. The penalty kill unit is working at 98 percent right now. And obviously on the back end, Joey Mack and Jaret Simpson, they did a good job as well.”
Lynnfield senior Tyler Murphy had a big day with three goals, including a short-handed goal with 1:37 left in the second period that, for all intents and purposes, sealed the Tanners’ fate, while junior Jaret Simpson also had a 3-point day with three assists.
“We played a pretty good game, they worked hard, it’s just we are having trouble putting the puck in the net, but overall I was happy with the way they played,” said Peabody coach Mark Leonard. “We struggled on the power play the whole game and didn’t have a single shot, maybe one on the 5-minute one. They didn’t give up but that short-handed goal really hurt. I mean if we score there it’s a 3-2 game instead it’s 4-1. But for an 0-5 team to battle like that, I was pretty happy.”
Mack, a senior captain, opened the scoring at the 11:58 mark of the first period, blasting a shot from the right point past Peabody freshman goalie Lucas DeMild with juniors George DeRoche and Jack Hammersley picking up assists.
Seconds after killing off a penalty, Lynnfield’s John Simonetti broke in on the right and dropped a perfect pass back to DeRoche, who flicked it home from a tough angle, top shelf just inside the far post, to make it a 2-0 game with 4:24 to go in the period. Simonetti and Simpson were credited with assists.
After the goal, Peabody incurred a major penalty, giving the Pioneers a five minute man up advantage, They needed only 40 seconds for Murphy to make it 3-0 (from DeRoche and Simpson).
Peabody started the second period on a power play for 1:48, but struggled to get out of the defensive zone.
Peabody’s first trip into its offensive zone, however, paid off with freshman Andrew Phillips cutting the Tanners’ deficit to 3-1 at the 11:53 mark (from freshman Nathan LePage).
The goal energized the Tanners, who had several good chances to cut into Lynnfield’s lead. With just under nine minutes to go, juniors Nick Capillo and Connor McCarron broke in on a 2-on-1, but McCarron was denied by Lynnfield goalie Aidan Kelly. A couple of minutes later, Kelly robbed sophomore James Guiry with a glove save on a hard wrist shot from point blank range.
With 3:03 to go, the Tanners had another power play opportunity. Phillips played the puck back to Capillo on the right point. Kelly made the save, then cleared the puck out of the zone, where it ended up on the stick of Murphy, swooping in alone on the left side. He flicked it high, far post right to make it 4-1 with 1:37 left in the period.
“Even when it was 4-1, McCarron had a wide open net on the backhand and it didn’t go in,” said Leonard. “Then Nick Capillo hit the post and that would have been 4-2. A lot of kids played well, you just have to find ways to score more goals.
“Zach DeFreitas on defense played well tonight and our little 8th grader Tommy Tilas played well also and had a really good game and Caleb Dollin, McCarron and Capillo played well but just didn’t have any luck.”
Unlike Leonard, Gardner said he was not happy with the way his team performed.
“I like getting the three early goals, but there’s not a really good feeling after this one,” he said. “We were 1-1 second, 1-0 third, so that’s not what we were hoping for.
Murphy completed his hat trick at the 6:42 mark of the third period (from Cooper Marengi and Simpson).
It doesn’t get any easier for either team as Peabody entertains a strong Medford team at home on Wednesday, while the Pioneers host a scrappy Newburyport team, also at home Wednesday.