By Nick Curcuru
---- — PEABODY— As the time ticked away in the third period of the Gloucester hockey team’s Northeastern Conference tilt with Peabody Saturday it was still anybody’s game.
In an evenly played game it was going to come down to who played best in the clutch. And that team was the Fishermen.
Gloucester had struggled to get into the win column through its first five games but on Saturday it got over the hump as Matt Lane goal with 1:47 to play led to a hard fought 4-2 win over the Tanners at McVann O’Keefe Rink. Gloucester improves to 1-4-1 on the year while the Tanners fall to 1-4-1.
“There was a lot of pressure on us to get that first win, we needed it,” Gloucester head coach Don Lowe said. “The effort was there again and we got a couple of bounces tonight.”
While the Fishermen have had stretches of strong play this season, they have been hurt by lapses in play that have usually led to goals from the opposition. On Saturday, however, Gloucester played one of its more complete games of the year and stayed focused for all three periods.
Gloucester also responded well after the Tanners erased a two goal Gloucester lead in the second period and took that momentum into the early part of the third period.
“We haven’t really responded like that all season so this was kind of a new leaf for us,” Gloucester senior captain Mike Muniz said. “We came out and played the whole game without any mental lapses.”
When the Fishermen did have a breakdown, goalie Jesse Glidden was there to make the stop. The senior faced a barrage of Peabody shots on goal Saturday finishing the afternoon with 41 saves and drawing praise from Lowe in the process.
Glidden’s best save came in the second period when Peabody’s Matt McIsaac broke in on a breakaway only to be turned away by a sprawling pad save from the senior net minder.
With the score tied at 2-2 entering the third period, it was Peabody that came into the third frame with the momentum having tied the score with two goals in 30 seconds from Tyler Gillespe and Reed Foster. Both goals came with under 30 seconds to play in the period.
The Tanners came out flying to start the third peppering Glidden with shots from all angles and even hit the post three minutes into the frame. The Tanners also drew a pair of third period power plays but both were killed off by the Fishermen, who showed improvements in another area that’s been plaguing them in the young season.
Gloucester regrouped in the second half of the frame and started to even out play. The Fishermen killed a power play with 4:30 to go in the game and with just under two minutes to play got what turned out to be the game winning goal from Lane. On the game winner Gloucester was rewarded for aggressively crashing the Peabody goal.
“We did a good job getting the puck to the net and getting traffic in front o the net to score,” Lowe said. “It was a good all around effort. We did a nice job killing off a few penalties in the third and the effort was there again. This time that effort paid off.”
With nine seconds to play senior captain Alex Webb put the game away with an empty net goal to make it 4-2.
Webb also had a hand in Gloucester’s first goal early in the second period when he shot leaked past Peabody goalie Joe Powers and Freshman Eddie Mahoney was in front to finish the job for his first career varsity goal. Five minutes later Gloucester got an insurance goal when senior captain Pete Mondello knocked home a rebound off a Ryan Whittemore shot from the point to make it 2-0 Gloucester.
Peabody, however responded with 2:46 to play in the period when Eric Hennessey found Gillespe all alone in the slot, Foster would finish the job and cut the Gloucester lead to 2-1. Foster would tie the score 30 seconds later after forcing a Gloucester turnover behind its own net.