Vineyard girls skate to third straight win

Celia Mercier broke away from Whitman-Hanson/Pembroke's Paige Caswell and Jane Morrisette to set up a shot on goal. — Photo by Ralph Stewart

The Martha’s Vineyard Regional High School girls hockey team continued its strong season Saturday with a 7-2 win over Whitman-Hanson/Pembroke at the M.V. Arena, moving them a step closer to qualifying for the Massachusetts Interscholastic Athletic Association tourney for the first time in the team’s history.

Coach John Fiorito said his team played their best game of the season. The Vineyarders had 30 shots on goal, took only one penalty all game and scored a dizzying four goals late in the second period to put the game away.

“It was our best 45-minute effort from start to finish. We played well in our zone and were getting a lot of good looks at the net. We were doing things the right way,” the coach said.

The win pushed the Vineyarders to 8-5 on the season, meaning they only need to win two out of their final seven games to qualify for the MIAA tournament. The coach said the team is playing their best hockey at the right time.

“We were 5-5 at one point, and now we have won three in a row, so we are getting hot at the right time. We are being led by some great seniors who I think really want to finish things strong – they are setting the tone,” coach Fiorito said.

The Vineyarders trailed 1-0 early, until Sydney Davies scored to tie the game on an assist from Celia Mercier. The Panthers took a 2-1 lead in the second period, but the Vineyarders came back to tie things again on a goal by Kassidy Bettencourt.

The Vineyarders’ offense then exploded, scoring four goals in the final minutes of the second period, including three goals in a 41-second span.

Senior co-captain Maggie Johnson started the onslaught when she rushed the ice and fired a slapshot past the goalie with 1:28 left in the period to make it 4-2. Celia Mercier then scored unassisted with 1:02 left to make it 5-2, and Mercier scored again just 15 seconds later to make it 6-2.

On that goal, Mercier won a face-off and quickly fired the puck over to Lizzie Kelleher, who then passed it back to Mercier for the goal. Kelleher notched an assist on the goal. Emily Hammett scored in the third period on an assist from Mercier.

Goalie Texe Craig made 10 saves for the Vineyarders to earn the win.

The Vineyarders next play in a rematch against conference rival Scituate, the team that beat them in a hard-fought 2-1 loss here the Island in the first round of the Nan Rheault tournament two weeks ago. Scituate is a perfect 6-0 in the league; the Vineyard is 4-1.

The coach said the game against Scituate will be a good test. “We’ve been improving all season, and I think the timing is perfect for this rematch,” he said. “I think our players are looking forward to this one, and I think it’s a game we can win.”