PEABODY — There was no denying the Peabody/Lynnfield girls hockey team Saturday afternoon at James McVann-Louis O’Keefe Rink.
The Tanners (9-2-1) came out flying from the opening puck drop, scoring three goals in the first five minutes of the first period, to left visiting Marblehead (2-8) at a huge disadvantage. Then they added solo goals in the next two periods en route to a 5-1 win.
The second line had a big game with senior captain Kat DiGiulio (Peabody) and freshman Jenn Flynn (Lynnfield) notching a goal and two assists, and senior captain Jess Robert (North Reading) notching a goal and an assist.
“The last couple of games we have come out flat so our goal today was to control the game from the puck drop and dictate (play),” said Peabody coach Michelle Roach. “Tonight, our defense and Abby (Buckley) in net did a great job limiting their chances. Their Sydney Cresta is dangerous. She changes games. But we did a good job keeping her outside.”
The Tanners wasted no time taking control of the game. Flynn opened the scoring just 32 seconds in, with DiGiulio picking up the assist.
Two minutes later, freshman Sadie Gearan (Lynnfield) fired a rising-slap shot from the left point past eighth-grade goaltender Kate Santeusanio, with sophomore Paige Thibedeau assisting.
With 9:49 left in the period, the second line struck again. Flynn swooped around the back of the net, then centered the puck to DiGiulio in front. Her shot was saved, but Robert converted the rebound to make it 3-0.
A pair of Peabody tripping penalties 30 seconds apart opened the door for Marblehead with about seven minutes to play, but the Tanners’ killed both.
Two minutes later, Marblehead had another golden opportunity when Cresta slipped in alone, but misfired. She had another chance a minute later when she stole a Peabody pass and broke in alone, only to be denied by Buckley.
DiGiulio made it 4-0 2:30 into the second period. Behind the net, she dumped the puck in front to Robert. Her shot was saved, but DiGiulio jammed the rebound home.
Marblehead came up empty on another power play late in the period .A Peabody penalty at the buzzer gave the Magicians another five-on-three advantage to start the third period, but they came up empty.
Marblehead’s best chance came with nine minutes left. Junior Cate Delaney ripped a shot from point-blank range, but Buckley came up with the save of the game to deny the effort.
Buckley came up big with about five minutes to go when Cresta and Delaney sprung loose on a two-on-one. Cresta dished to Delaney, but her shot was saved, as was Cresta’s rebound attempt.
With a four-goal lead, Roach went to her reserves and they did not disappoint.
With 4:52 to go, Elise Staunton (Peabody) electrified the crowd with her first goal of the season (Flynn assist).
“That was a beautiful goal,” said Roach. “Elise doesn’t hesitate, she gets the puck on her stick and just shoots it. It was so loud, you’d have thought it was the game-winning goal.”
Peabody kept up the pressure and came close to adding to its lead when a rebound bid just outside the crease by senior captain Charlotte Grant was denied.
With under two minutes left, Mia Salah foiled Buckley’s shutout bid with. She burst in on the left side with some fancy stickwork and drilled it past Buckley.
“That was some great stickwork and just a beautiful goal,” Roach said.
Roach said the keys to the game were Peabody’s penalty kill and some matchup strategy.
“Our penalty kill was very strong tonight,” Roach said. “Jess is key on defense on our penalty kill and anchored both of our five-on-three penalty kills. She is the backbone of that unit.
“That whole second line was flying. That’s why they started and they set the tone for the game. Their skill set also is a good matchup for their first line. They are more of a backchecking unit and have a ton of speed. They have the ability to alleviate the pressure off the D by getting back quickly.”
Roach said the game showcased the Tanners’ depth.
“Every one of our goals was scored by a different player,” Roach said. “We have depth and can make sure that everyone is firing. We are not relying on one or two players. I also was very happy to get everyone in the game in the third period.
“We are in a great spot right now, but we have a tough stretch of games coming up, but this win keeps us on top of the league.”
Peabody’s next game is Wednesday at 6 against Middlesex League rival Melrose at Flynn Arena. Marblehead’s next game is Sunday, Jan. 27 at 10:30 a.m. against Medford at Rockett Arena.