WOBURN — The magical ride of the Peabody/Lynnfield girls hockey team came to a close Thursday night at O’Brien Rink as the No. 11 Tanners fell to a tough, third-seeded Methuen/Tewksbury squad, 7-1 in the quarterfinal round of the Division 1 tournament.
While Methuen, the state runner-up last year, owned a decided edge in possession for much of the game, Peabody made the most of its limited chances and hung tough through two periods.
But the Rangers (20-1-1) exploded for four third-period goals to put the game out of reach and advance to the semifinals against the winner of Friday’s quarterfinal game between No. 7 Longmeadow and No. 15 Shrewsbury.
“They (Methuen) are a fast club, a good club and very well-coached,” said Peabody coach Michelle Roach. “We only had two days that we had to get ready and they had four days off. That was a tight turnaround for us after we had a huge game on Monday against St. Mary’s.
“I think today we were slow to get to the puck and we were a little too passive,” Roach added. “We were hesitating to be more physical and we weren’t getting to open lanes, and they capitalized.”
Peabody’s only goal (Sammie Mirasolo) came on a power play. Peabody also struggled on special teams at times as Methuen torched the Tanners for three power play goals and added a shorthanded goal for good measure.
“Penalties hurt us and I thought there were some interesting calls out there,” said Roach. “All we ask for is a consistent game and there were times we were in the box that led to game-changing moments that you can’t ever get back.”
The Tanners had no answers for Methuen’s speedy sniper Julia Masotta, who scored the first three Methuen goals to put Methuen in the driver’s seat. Masotta also scored Methuen’s final goal and notched an assist to complete a pretty good day at the office with five points to boost her season points total to an eye-popping 85 on 48 goals and 37 assists.
Methuen dominated play early. Masotta cashed in on the Rangers’ first power play (assist to Brenna Greene) 5:20 into the first period. Peabody returned the favor on its first man-up opportunity at the 10:52 mark. Carolyn Garofoli made a nice play at the left point to keep the puck in the offensive zone, then directed a wrist shot in front that looked to be redirected by Paige Thidedeau through the crease to Mirasolo, who was camped on the right side and tipped it home behind Methuen goalie Kaia Hollingsworth. The goal brought Mirasolo to within two points of the career century mark with 98.
“We’ve talked all season about being able to respond and we did off their first goal and put one in the net on that power play,” Roach said. “Being able to get that equalizer on the power play and be tied at 1-1 after the first period was huge and that also brings Sammie to 98 points and that is a huge accomplishment.”
As they had in the first period, Methuen came out flying in the second. Masotta struck again with her second power play goal of the game (from Cassidy Gruning and Greene) at the 3:36 mark.
A little more than three and a half minutes later, Peabody went on its second man-up of the game. The power play fizzled as Peabody failed to get a shot off, but Masotta did and it was a beauty, right into the net for a shortie to complete her hat trick with eight minutes left in the middle period.
Down 3-1, Peabody came out energized to start the third but it wasn’t enough to stop the Rangers, who responded with four straight goals to complete a stretch of six answered goals and seal the win.
Peabody goalie Abby Buckley was under siege from start to finish. She made several key stops through the first two periods to keep the Tanners within striking distance.
“She made lot of good saves again tonight,” said Roach. “At times we didn’t clear people from in front of the net. I don’t know how many she actually saw, but they were good shooters.”
The loss brought the careers of four seniors (captains Charlotte Grant, Kat DiGiulio, Jess Robert and Buckley) to a close.
“The core four, they almost got me in the locker room,” said Roach. “They have been with me since I took the job here and they mean a lot to me. Their leadership, without that we wouldn’t be where we are today.
“They made this program what it is,” Roach continued. “I relied on them so much and I am so proud of them and hope they do really well and hope they come back and visit.”
Roach said the 2018-2019 season has definitely raised the bar.
“This is absolutely our new benchmark as we try to push it a little more each year,” said Roach. “We ended this year at 17-5-2, which is the most that the program has ever seen by far, so this is our new baseline and we are going to do some great things next year. Tonight, we did what we could so we will take this and learn.”