By Greg Phipps
Having made consistent strides forward over the past two seasons, the Peabody girls’ hockey team began this winter in strong fashion by downing the Marblehead Magicians, 6-2, on Saturday at Salem State University’s Rockett Arena.
Having earned postseason bids the last two years, the Tanners and head coach Michelle Roach are hoping they can take another step up the ladder in 2018-19. Peabody has suffered losses in its opening round postseason contests the last two years and would like to advance and make some noise in the tournament this time around.
Saturday’s season-opening win helped get the team kick-started in the right direction. “It was good to see where we’re at; (Marblehead) is a good team and this was a good test for us,” Roach said after last Saturday’s game. “We’re a well-conditioned team and we have to work hard and make sure we transition well. I was very pleased with our line changes today.”
It seemed a positive omen for Peabody when Paige Thibodeau tallied less than 30 seconds into the game for a quick 1-0 lead. Marblehead evened it and the contest was tied at one apiece after the first period. The Tanners erupted for four goals in period two, including two goals – one by Jess Robert and the other by Sammie Mirasolo – in a 40-second span to jump ahead 3-1.
From there, the Tanners held fast and increased the advantage to 5-2 entering the final stanza. Goals by Jennifer Flynn and Catherine Sweeney helped give Peabody its three-goal cushion. Despite some good opportunities by Marblehead, the Tanners were able to stave off the hosts over the final 15 minutes. Freshman Sadie Gearan closed it out with an empty net score in the final minutes
Tanners goalie Abby Buckley saved 20 shots, a number of them testers, including a few key stops on Marblehead’s top forward, Sydney Cresta, who did beat Buckley on one breakaway. “Abby came up with some big saves; she always does. She stuffed Sydney a few times on off rushes today when [Cresta] was in alone,” Roach observed. “Sydney’s a talented player, but when your goaltender makes saves like Abby did today against her, it gives your team momentum.”
Mirasolo, Peabody’s top scorer from last year, got her season off to a solid start with a goal and three assists. Gearan contributed a goal and two helpers while Reilly Ganter, Maria Pearce and Anya Pineo had assists as well.
“Sammie’s picked up where she left off [from last year], and we’ve added some new faces to the team,” Roach said. “We ran two lines today; our forwards back-checked well and our passing was fantastic. I’d like to see more shots on net, but we kept them from capitalizing by staying out of the penalty box and not giving them opportunities.” Peabody was called for just one infraction in the game.