The season was nearly over and all hope of qualifying for the state tournament was long gone for the Martha’s Vineyard Regional High School boys’ hockey team on Saturday as they prepared to play Lynnfield in the first round of the annual Fairleigh Dickinson Tournament at the MV Arena.
The Vineyarders eventually lost 4-3 in a shootout, but still scored high marks on this late-season report card with their coach, after battling back from a deficit in the third period and playing outstanding defense through three periods and a ten-minute overtime.
The Vineyarders also lost to Nauset the next day in the consolation game of the tournament to drop their record to 4-13-2 on the season, but the coach said he was proud of his team’s play in the opening round against a powerful and determined Lynnfield team.
Coach Matt Mincone viewed both games as important — if not for this season, then for the next.
On Saturday with Lynnfield needing only one point to qualify for the state tournament, he saw the game as a chance for his team to play the role of spoiler while demonstrating how they have grown as individual players and as a team this season.
“I advertised the game to the team as our report card,” he said. “We were going against a team that was going to fight us hard for that win, and I wanted to see how much we have grown.”
Coach Mincone was upbeat regarding Saturday’s loss. “I just want the team to get better each game, and that has happened, for the most part. Saturday’s game was a great example of how far we’ve come. We got down, but didn’t give up, and we played it close to the end.”
The two teams appeared evenly matched early, but the Pioneers dominated the second period, outshooting the Vineyarders by a margin of 17-3. But the score was tied 1-1 heading into the third period, thanks to some dazzling goaltending by Mike Sylvia, who had 34 saves on the night.
The Vineyarders took a 2-1 advantage early in the third on a goal by sophomore forward Shay Hill with assists from junior captains Colby Gouldrup and Tyler Araujo. But Lynnfield fought back, scoring two quick goals to take a 3-2 lead about midway through the period.
The home team got the equalizer with just under four minutes on the clock on a goal by Tyler Araujo, who took the assist from his brother, freshman Tyson Araujo. The home crowd exploded, but the Vineyarders could not get the go-ahead goal and instead had to settle for overtime.
Both teams had chances to win in the extra frame, but the game went to a three-round shoot-out, something coach Mincone is not a fan of during the regular season. “I am going to see about changing the format of this tournament next year,” he said candidly.
The Vineyarders lost the shootout 2-1; Shay Hill was the only Vineyard player to make his shot.
The coach said it was the type of hard-fought game that a young team like the Vineyarders can build-on heading into next year. “I loved our effort. We played great on the power play, we played strong defense and our goaltender [Mike Sylvia] was outstanding.”
The Gong Show
The coach was less enthusiastic about his team’s 6-4 loss to Nauset in Sunday’s consolation game, a crazy game that featured many penalties and outlandish antics by many of the Warriors’ players.
“It was like the Gong Show out there,” quipped Coach Mincone of the strange but entertaining game. “After Saturday’s strong effort, it was a bit of a step back for our team, but considering all the distractions, I think we did okay.”
The term distractions may have been a polite way to describe the shenanigans of the Warriors players, who openly instigated Vineyard players, waved their arms and shouted, and frequently argued with the referees.
The result: the Warriors were called for 15 penalties, including a major for unsportsmanlike conduct, while the Vineyarders were called for only five.
The Warriors, another young team struggling to make the playoffs, pulled out all the stops. They emptied their bench and played three different goalies. The Vineyarders, meanwhile, were missing Tyler Araujo and Kip Cooperrider, who sat out due to injuries.
Nauset jumped out to an early lead, and held a 5-3 advantage at the end of the second period. They scored early in the third period to take a three-goal advantage, but the Vineyarders pulled to within two on a goal by Bobby Perry with an assist by Chuck Goldthwait.
The final minutes of the game got chippy, with Warriors players arguing with the referees, the two teams fighting for every loose puck, and the home crowd voicing their frustration from the stands; but the Vineyarders never scored again and lost 6-4.
After the game Coach Mincone was disappointed, but still encouraged by his team’s overall effort during the tournament. He said his team still has something to play for, as it tries to avoid the worst record over his tenure (4-13-3).
He said he was optimistic for the team’s future prospects. “We’re a young team; we’re returning almost all our top players. I would expect our guys to come back more mature with better skill sets, but that’s up to them,” he said. “If they work hard in the off-season and continue to improve, I think we can come back strong,” he said.
The Vineyarders Senior Night, and last home game of the season is tomorrow night (Friday) against Whitman-Hanson at the MV Area at 6:30 p.m.