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Beverly gets lucky bounce, wins Division 2 state title

Posted by Metro Desk  March 16, 2014 10:25 PM

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By the final minute of play in a long day of hockey at TD Garden, the crowd said it all: Beverly students screaming and feverishly waving orange towels behind the Beverly net, their Medfield counterparts standing near the other end, a few hopping nervously and almost all of them silent. Seconds later, the opposing sections went further to their extremes. The buzzer rang and the Beverly boys’ hockey team celebrated a 2-1 win and Division 2 state championship. “It wasn’t one of our prettier efforts, but the boys held tough,” said Beverly coach Bob Gilligan. “I’m so happy for them. They’ve had a great run, and what a way to cap it off. “It’s well deserved and it’s been a great group for the last four years.” For Beverly (22-1-1) and Medfield (18-4-3), the 2013-14 season — a combined 49 games, 204 goals, and countless hours of practice — came down to one bounce. Early in the third period, Beverly was attacking the offensive zone when a shot appeared to deflect off a Medfield defender and by senior goalie Dan Graham for the 2-1 lead at 2:17 in the frame. Beverly junior forward Jesse MacLaughlin was officially credited with the goal, but there was some debate whether it was him or Connor Irving who last touched the puck for the Panthers. “Connor buried that one,” MacLaughlin said. “I thought Jesse got a piece of it,” Irving said. “At that point, who cares whose it is? I looked at him and said, ‘I don’t care if it’s mine or yours. There are 12 minutes left, let’s get another one so we can play more loose.’ ” Beverly did not end up getting another, but junior goalie Tim Birarelli made sure it didn’t matter. A number of his 17 saves came in the waning minutes when Medfield was buzzing in Beverly’s zone. “He’s a big boy. He covers the net so well,” Gilligan said. “There was a lot of odd-man rushes we should not have let go . . . and Timmy held tough. Side-to-side he’s big, he’s strong and he doesn’t get rattled.” Beverly opened up the scoring at 2:25 in the first when senior defenseman Matt Hamor was working as the screen on the power play in front of Medfield's Graham. Hamor redirected junior defenseman Nick Albano’s shot from the right point for a 1-0 lead. Just 22 seconds later, however, Medfield tied it up. Senior forward Justin Hirschfeld capped a few seconds of chaos when he banged home a loose puck by the crease. It was the only time Medfield beat Birarelli on the night. During the postgame ceremony, the crowd told the story again, chanting Birarelli’s name: “Tim-my, Tim-my.” “It’s definitely cool that people recognize what you do out there,” said Birarelli.
Originally published on the blog The High School Sports Blog.

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