WATERTOWN — The No. 11 seed Peabody girls hockey team kept its fantastic season alive, shocking No. 6 St. Mary’s with a 4-0 win in the Division 1 first round Monday at John A. Ryan Arena.
“We feel amazing right now,” Tanners coach Michelle Roach said. “We have worked so hard all season. The kids really put it out there, they gave it everything they. We told them, ‘don’t leave anything on the ice. St. Mary’s is a great team.’ And I think we showcased that tonight. A lot of people underestimate us so we were looking to send a message. I think we did that.”
Abigail Buckley was amazing in net for the Tanners with 38 saves. Peabody captains Sammie Mirasolo and Jessica Robert each scored twice.
“Abby played out of her mind,” Roach said. “She’s really the backbone of our team. She sets the tone from the back of the net. All those saves that she makes give us momentum to push forward.
“I think it started last week against Winthrop,” Roach added of Buckley. “She played unbelievable last week. We had a few days of very tight, focused practices and they have been on their A-game. She knows she has to get up and be a leader. She always rises to the occasion.”
The Spartans had flashes of offense in the second period, but overall coach Frank Pagliuca was disappointed with St. Mary’s effort.
“I just think from the drop of the puck we got outplayed the entire game,” Pagliuca said. “Credit to Peabody. They wanted it more, they beat us to loose pucks and we were just out of sync all night. Unfortunately it was our worst performance at the worst time, but most of that was Peabody just outworking us.”
The Tanners got off to the better start in the first period while dominating possession time but couldn’t capitalize. The Spartans kept Peabody on the perimeter, with several blocked shots and nine first-period saves from Lauren Vaccaro keeping the Tanners scoreless.
With one minute remaining in the period St. Mary’s got some offense going with a man advantage. The Spartans got what they were looking for on the power play with a nice shooting chance for Jenna Chaplain in the slot but Buckley made the save to keep the game tied at 0-0.
“I thought we controlled most of the first,” Roach said. “So we were a little disappointed going into the locker room without having put something in the back of the net. We knew we just had to keep working and eventually something was going to go.”
Midway through the second, St. Mary’s got on the power play again and were all over the Tanners. But Buckley rose to the occasion with a flurry of fantastic saves to keep the game scoreless.
With three minutes remaining in the second, Robert skated the puck out of her own zone and kept going, slipping by a Spartan defender and ripping a wrist shot that found the back of the net to put Peabody ahead 1-0.
Robert wasn’t done there. The senior captain made another nice play with less than minute to go on the penalty kill, stealing the puck and going on a breakaway that she finished to extend the lead to 2-0.
Mirasolo came up big in the third period. Midway through the third, she carried the puck into the St. Mary’s zone on a three-on-one rush and ripped a high shot that found the back of the net. Just over three minutes later, Mirasolo scored again, using her speed to breakaway from a Spartan defender and ripping another shot to put Peabody up 4-0 and ice the game.
The Tanners advanced to the quarterfinals and will take on No. 3 Methuen/Tewksbury Thursday (5:30) at O’Brien Arena in Woburn.
St. Mary’s watched its season end at 16-3-2.
“Hopefully our returners can take this as a learning experience,” Pagliuca said. “I do feel bad for our four seniors (Mady Hentosh, Codi Butt, Skylar Davis and Vaccaro) who have been great all year. Unfortunately we just didn’t come ready to play today.
“I thought we had a tremendous year,” Pagliuca said. “This is one of my favorite groups to coach. They came to practice, worked hard and continued to get better all year. I think from our standpoint, looking at the entire experience it was a great year for us. A lot of growth on and of the ice and they were a pleasure to coach.”