The Martha’s Vineyard House Mites hosted top off-Island competition in the annual Red Kennedy tournament over the weekend at the M.V. Arena.
In the end, the Manchester Flames were far too hot for the field and skated away with the title by virtue of a 7-2 win over Westfield in Sunday’s final. The Flames also won 4-1 in the round-robin meeting between the two teams.
For the young Vineyarders, tournament play was an introduction to what players can expect at the next level. The Islanders had a tough task in taking on what were far more experienced travel teams from Manchester and Westfield.
Many of the players were skating on the full ice surface for the first time. The House Mite program at Martha’s Vineyard Youth Hockey has adopted USA Hockey’s American Development Model (ADM), which emphasizes cross-ice games in order to better develop a player’s individual hockey skills.
The home teams — M.V. White and M.V. Purple — lit the lamp once between them against their stronger opponents in the opening rounds. Chase Grant of M.V. White scored the goal.
The experience gained in playing quality opposition, however, translated into two exciting contests when the Vineyarders played each other — first on Saturday night and again in the consolation final Sunday morning.
M.V. Purple won the first intra-Island game, 4-3. Jacob Cleland potted a pair of Purple goals. Ingrid Gunderson and Radio Goulart scored once each. Kaleb Hatt earned an assist. Chase Grant notched a hat trick for M.V. White, who went on to win the consolation game, 3-1, with goals by Sam Hoyt, Nick Ben David and Ava Ben David. Grant, Hoyt, and Alex Walsh had assists. Jacob Cleland scored for M.V. Purple. Matt Pouliott starred in goal for M.V. White.
The hockey gods were smiling as each Vineyard team claimed a victory and players got the chance to mob their respective goalies after the game.
The players also had the thrill of wearing Martha’s Vineyard game jerseys and trading youth hockey pins with Westfield and Manchester. The Vineyard had many stand-out performances by first-time goalies, and all of the players involved were more than happy to receive participation trophies at tourney’s end.