PEABODY — The Peabody/Lynnfield girls hockey team played some its best hockey of the season Saturday, defeating crosstown rival Bishop Fenwick, 5-1, at James McVann-Louis O’Keefe Ice Rink.
Both teams came into the much-anticipated game off their best starts ever in program history, with Fenwick 7-1 and Peabody 5-2-1.
Both also came into the game with several of the North Shore area’s top scorers. The Crusaders brought Gabby Davern (13 goals, 8 assists), a sophomore, senior captain Lexi McNeil (5 goals, 12 assists) and and senior captain Jill Mattucci (5 goals, 9 assists). The Tanners countered with junior captain Sammie Mirasolo (6 goals, 7 assists) and freshman Maria Pierce (4 goals, 4 assists). Toss in two of the North Shore’s top-three goaltenders in Crusaders’ junior Daphne Jalbert (2.22 GAA) and Tanners’ senior captain Abby Buckley (2.43 GAA) and the game figured to be a battle.
And, for one period, it was.
In the end, however, Peabody’s depth and speed proved to be the difference as five Tanners scored goals and two more notched assists. Tied at 1-1 after the first period, the Tanners reeled off four unanswered goals to secure the victory.
The Tanners pressed from the get-go, starting each period with a goal in the first minute of action.
“We started a little flat, but regrouped after the first period. We had good momentum in each period with those early goals, especially in the second and third,” said Peabody coach Michelle Roach. “I liked that every one of our goals was scored by a different player. Everyone contributed. We started a little flat, but regrouped after the first period.”
Sophomore forward Jenn Flynn (Lynnfield) and Mirasolo (North Reading) put up three-point games with Flynn scoring one goal and notching two assists, while Mirasolo notched three assists. Senior captain Jess Robert (North Reading), sophomore Paige Thibedeau (North Reading) and freshman Maria Pierce (North Reading) each scored one goal and assisted on another, while senior captain Kat DiGiulio (Peabody) chipped in two assists.
Junior defenseman Carolyn Garofoli (Lynnfield) also scored.
Peabody wasted no time getting on the board, taking a 1-0 lead on a goal by Robert (assists to Flynn, Mirasolo) just 39 seconds into the game.
Fenwick tied the score about two minutes later on a score by Mattucci with Davern and O’Neill picking up assists.
Peabody needed just 35 seconds in the second period to take the lead for good on Garofoli’s first goal of the season on a wrist shot from DiGiulio and Robert.
Thibedeau bumped the lead to 3-1 at the 5:04 mark when she poked home a loose puck in a scrum in front (assists to Mirasolo and Flynn).
The third period was deja vu, this time with Flynn doing the honors just 26 seconds in (assists to DiGiulio and Pierce). Two minutes later, Pierce capped the scoring at the 12:25 mark (assists to Thibedeau and Mirasolo).
“We were able to turn it into a second gear today and did a great job getting to net in the second period,” Roach said, adding “and we also opened up the ice which helped.”
Roach said the Tanners’ second line and a solid performance from the defense was key.
“Our second line (Robert, Flynn and DiGiulio) can be overshadowed at times but they have the moves and the speed to be reckoned with and they showcased that today,” said Roach. “Jess was the best all-around player today and she played so well on the penalty kill and Sadie Gearan (Lynnfield) and Catherine Sweeney (Lynnfield) on defense played well.”
Despite the loss, Fenwick coach Doug Anderson was pleased with the Crusaders’ performance.
“Their first goal was deflected off the skate of one of our defenders and they also had another one that changed direction, so there’s not much you can do about them, as Daphne had no chance,” Anderson said. “Peabody was just the better team today. They have team speed on both lines and it’s hard for us to match up against them. They are just a little more skilled and are that much quicker depth-wise and put a little too much pressure on us. I’m not upset at all with the game as our effort was very good, we just were a little overwhelmed in the last half of the game.”
Anderson said freshman Lauren Diranian (Lynnfield) and backup goalie Madison Davis were bright spots for the Crusaders.
“Lauren matched up very well with their speed,” Anderson said. “She’s offensively minded as well and would make a great forward, but she is playing some excellent defense for us. And Madison did okay for us and had to make a few good saves when she came in midway through the third period.”
“We don’t play for a week, so we now need to settle down and focus on Saturday’s game at Oakmont and then Monday we play Wilmington, so those are two games we need. Today we just ran into a team that was a better team, but I am really looking forward to playing them again next month in the Carlin Cup.”
Peabody is back in action Wednesday, Jan. 16 at 5 p.m. at Waltham.