LOWELL — Chemistry and familiarity are important for any hockey line. It was clear Monday night that Beverly’s top trio had plenty of both.
Connor Irving, Jesse MacLaughlin, and Ryan Santo combined for five goals and eight assists to lead the Panthers over Tewksbury, 9-1, in the Division 2 North final at Tsongas Center. Beverly (21-1-1) will play Medfield in the Division 2 state final Sunday at TD Garden.
“They work well,” said Beverly coach Bob Gilligan. “They have good chemistry and they’re hard workers. Any time you play with Connor you’re going to get the puck, and you’ve got two wingers who are going to work.”
Irving, who centers MacLaughlin (one goal, two assists) and Santo (five assists), had four goals and a helper.
“We’ve been working together all season, it seems like everything is starting to click now at the right time,” said Irving, the team’s leading scorer with 47 points during the regular season. “Usually, I’m trying to set people up. But fortunately I was able to get some big goals. Ryan and Jesse were getting me the puck.”
Beverly fell behind, 1-0, on a goal by Jack Cash at 8:07 of the first period. But the early deficit seemed to spark the Panthers, who scored nine straight goals, starting with Jake Straw’s tying marker just 58 seconds later.
Irving’s line got started at 11:55 of the first when MacLaughlin buried a rebound to put the Panthers ahead, 2-1.
With just three seconds to go in the opening period, Irving extended the lead to 3-1. Santo knocked down a pass from MacLaughlin through center ice that deflected to Irving, who then split the defensemen and buried the puck on a breakaway.
“I know that if I get the puck to Connor he’s going to do something good with it,” said Santo. “Jesse decided to throw a wrist shot across the ice and I just tipped it out of the air.”
Beverly put the game away with a dominating second period in which it scored five goals and outshot Tewksbury, 11-0. Irving scored three times in the period – on the power play, shorthanded, and at even strength.
“We came into the locker room after the first period and said that the next goal was huge,” said Irving. “If they get the next goal it’s 3-2 and they have all of the momentum. We came out in the second and took it to them. We just shut them down after that.”
After Nick Albano made it 4-1 with a blast from the left point at 5:54, Irving streaked down the right side on the man advantage and roofed it to past goalie Kyle Paquette.
Irving completed his hat trick at 11:22 of the second, taking a pass from Santo across the slot to extend the lead to 7-1. Santo found Irving again just over two minutes later for the shorthanded tally that put Beverly ahead, 8-1.