Vineyard icemen clinch spot in state tourney
After a two-year absence, the Martha's Vineyard Regional High School boys hockey team punched their ticket back into the Massachusetts Interscholastic Athletic Association (MIAA) tournament with a pair of hard-fought road games this week.
First, the Vineyarders traveled to Fall River last Wednesday and beat Somerset 8-1, led by senior Colby Gouldrup, who scored four goals in the lopsided romp over the Blue Raiders. Junior Kyp Cooperrider had a pair of goals, and senior Capitan Tyler Araujo also scored a goal in the win.
Coach Matt Mincone said he was pleased with his team's effort. "It was a good overall game for us," he said. "A lot of players made contributions."
On Saturday the team braved a bad winter storm and endured a grueling four-and-a-half hour bus ride to Springfield to take on Minnechaug Regional High School of Wilbraham. The team shook off a sluggish start, perhaps because of the long ride, and skated to what was an eventually easy 5-2 win.
Kyp Cooperrider's hot streak continued as he scored a pair of goals, while junior Shay Hill scored on a pass from junior Max Davies, who had two assists on the game. The win pushed the Vineyarders record to 10-2 on the season, and qualified them for a return trip to the MIAA tournament.
Coach Mincone said it wasn't his team's best game, but a win is a win. "Mentally and physically we didn't play well, at least not at the start," he said. "I think our guys were playing the record and not the team, but we still ended up outplaying them and got the win, which is all that matters."
Now that the Vineyarders have clinched a spot in the state tourney, they can focus on their next goal, winning the Eastern Athletic Conference (EAC), the coach said. The first step to accomplishing that goal was to win their home game on Wednesday against old rival Coyle and Cassidy, never an easy task.
The Vineyarders defeated the Warriors in Raynham on January 4 by a score of 3-1. But the coach knows defeating the perennial power twice in a season isn't easy, and he viewed their game at MV Arena against Coyle Cassidy as their biggest test of the season.
"I think they understand the significance," coach Mincone said. "We've had some really great practices this week, so I think they will be ready."
The coach said that his team is still adjusting to being a frontrunner. "I don't know if they fully understand that the bull's-eye is on us," he said. "Now that we are a top team again, the other teams are gunning for us. The overall thing is to keep competing for every puck in every game during every shift and to stay hungry."
Overall Mr. Mincone was proud of his team and their return to the MIAA tournament. "We have grown as a team this year, we are moving forward," he said. "Remember this is a team that missed the tournament the past two years, so some of our more experienced players have a healthy respect for losing. We won five games last year, and we are surprising a lot of people now."