By Greg Phipps
In a penalty-riddled contest, the Peabody boys’ hockey team earned its first point in nearly two years by scrapping to a 2-2 tie against the Northeastern Conference (NEC) rival Danvers Falcons on Saturday afternoon at Endicott College’s Raymond Bourque Arena in Beverly.
It was the eighth annual Mike Clifford Memorial Game, played in memory of the late Clifford, who served as an assistant coach for both schools. The arena was packed and the contest was full of intensity, as 25 penalties were whistled over the final two periods. In fact, there were very few instances over the final 30 minutes when both squads were at full strength.
The Tanners were forced to stave off a 5-on-3 short-handed situation in the final two minutes to hold on for the tie. Goalie Lucas DeMild came up huge for Peabody, stopping 37 shots and making some brilliant saves to keep the Falcons at bay.
“I know it’s a tie, but it feels like a win,” Peabody head coach Mark Leonard told the press after the game. “I thought our guys played terrific and did so many little things well – blocking shots, clogging lanes, creating opportunities for ourselves. And Lucas played out of his mind. It’s pretty special, to be honest with you.”
Peabody, which had gone 24 straight games without a win or tie, was coming off a season-opening 4-1 loss to Swampscott last week and Connor McCarron got the Tanners off on the right foot on Saturday when he scored unassisted in the first period. That 1-0 lead stood up into the third period before Danvers tied it up.
Peabody regained the edge when Nathan LePage tallied on a power play off an assist from Caleb Dollin. But the Falcons came back again to even it at two midway through the period. All told, Peabody was outshot, 39-17, and the Falcons own a 6-1-1 advantage in the eight Clifford Memorial games.
The Tanners dropped a 5-2 decision to Marlboro on Monday and fell to 0-2-1 on the young season. Austin Higinbotham and LePage scored the Peabody goals.