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Salem News article 2/11/17: Masconomet girls hockey earns draw with unbeaten Beverly

Masconomet girls hockey earns draw with unbeaten Beverly
By Matt Williams Staff writer Feb 11, 2017

HAVERHILL — Visiting Beverly had the top two point-getters in Massachusetts girls hockey on the ice Saturday, but it was defense and goaltending that ruled the day.

Host Masconomet used smarts and stick-to-it-iveness on defense and a stout performance in goal from freshman Molly Elmore to earn a 1-1 draw with the unbeaten Panthers at Valley Forum.

It was Senior Day for the Chieftains (now 8-6-3) and their 12th graders, especially those on the blue line, were determined to make it a memorable one. They did, becoming the first Northeastern Hockey League team to earn a point from champion Beverly (14-0-3 overall), which despite the tie remained unbeaten in its last 26 league games.

No team had held Beverly to fewer than two goals all season, and their 60-point scorers Izzy Primack and McKinley Karpa put Elmore (27 saves) under immense pressure in the last three minutes. Masconomet killed off a penalty and then got a 10-bell stop from Elmore on junior Marlee Hamor to keep it even on the scoreboard.

“It’s our most difficult game. Karpa and Primack are two of the best forwards in the state and I’ve been facing them for four years, so I know how tough it can be,” said Masconomet co-captain Madi Brooke, a senior defenseman.

“We spent a lot of time preparing at practice. We know how fast they are, so not letting them get by us to the outside was crucial.”

The final minute of the third period wasn’t without some drama in the Beverly end. Junior Maddy Jalbert saved her team’s unbeaten season when she somehow stopped on a 2-on-none breakaway that came out of a Panther turnover. Jalbert cut off the passing lane, then got her blocker on the knuckling shot for what felt like a miracle stop, given the circumstances.

“Maddy came up huge. It’s a bad bounce, we’re flat footed and she came up with the stop,” said Beverly coach Brian Seabury, whose team posted a pair of ties in a 24-hour span following Friday night’s stalemate at Billerica. “We’re getting everybody’s best game because they want to be the first ones to beat us. We have match that.”

The Chieftains haven’t beaten Beverly since the 2008-09 season. Saturday was the first point in the rivalry in four meetings for Masco, which lost to the Panthers 6-1 six weeks ago.

Defensively, they were much sharper Saturday with Brooke, senior Rachel Duval, junior Riane Vatcher and freshmen Nicole Flak and Gianna Conte clogging lanes and refusing to give the Panthers speed through center ice.

“From start to finish, the girls were flying,” said Masconomet coach Ryan Sugar. “We spent a lot of time figuring out what went wrong last time and worked on it this week in practice.”

In a scoreless game midway through the second period, the Chieftains struck first. After killing a penalty, Brooke made a long pass to Abby Gendron, who had just come on for the player exiting the penalty box. The result was a mini-breakaway for Gendron, and she finished for a 1-0 lead.

Five minutes later, Hamor did a phenomenal job shielding the puck as she entered the zone and bore down on Elmore. The junior captain centered to Primack for the finish and what wound up being the game’s only other goal.

“In all three of our ties we’ve been behind, so it’s good to see us have to battle back because that doesn’t happen often,” said Seabury. “We’re in a little bit of a rut right now — and that’s OK. Everybody goes through them, and we’ll snap out of it.”

Beverly had to be sharp defensively in killing all four Masconomet power plays. Tiffany Foster, Megan Caley, Natalie Gesualdi, Ava Daly and Skylar Davis did the work on ‘D’ for the visitors, with Hamor also having a strong shorthanded game.

Masco also benefited immensely from Sami Kelleher’s work in the faceoff dot. The Chieftains top pivot won the vast majority of draws, which allowed the hosts to dump pucks deep and generally dictate the pace.

“Sami and Mikayla Vincent won a lot of draws and against the top forwards in the state, winning those is everything,” said Sugar.

Elmore, who made 12 saves in the first and another 12 in the third, did an admirable job controlling rebounds. That also helped Masco regain possession on faceoffs rather than fighting for loose pucks in dangerous areas.

“It was definitely a big game for us. We wanted to play well in Senior Night and we felt some pressure needing two points to make the playoffs. Getting one is big,” said Brooke. “We worked really hard all night and I kept telling the girls we couldn’t give up.”

Masconomet 1, Beverly 1


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