The Lynnfield High School Pioneers scored three comeback goals in the third period, improbably including two short handed goals, to beat the host Vineyarders 5-3 February 15, in the opening round of the 17th Annual Fairleigh S. Dickinson Jr. boys hockey tournament at the MV Ice Arena.
Westwood High School defeated Lynnfield High School in the championship game on Sunday afternoon.
The crowd of 150 Vineyard supporters who had braved near blizzard conditions to watch the state tourney-bound Martha’s Vineyard Regional High School team sat in stunned silence as the final minutes ticked off after the Pioneer scoring avalanche. The had seen a contest lost, despite the Vineyard’s domination of play and time of possession.
Certainly the outcome was improbable, given the Vineyarders’ complete second period dominance when goals by state all-star Tyson Araujo and Austin Morley, on the power play, had given the Purple a 3-1 lead with 15 minutes remaining.
The Vineyarders, by far the youngest team in the tournament with only four seniors, had also enjoyed the edge in first period play with the game’s first goal by senior sniper Brian Fraser, answered late in the period with a tying goal by the Pioneers.
The Pioneers play a heavy game. Hockey rules allow a defensive player to check an opponent who last controlled the puck, even after he has passed or lost it, and the Pioneers took every opportunity available in the first period to get their licks in.
The Vineyarders use a finesse, medium passing game on offense as opposed to the Pioneer dump and chase physical style. But the Purple adjusted to the bodying style and found they enjoyed it, particularly in the second period, which produced some spectacular hits from both teams in a game turned chippy. The lesson of winning individual puck battles was clear, as first Tyson, then the extremely hard working Austin found the back of the net.
The referees let the boys play, as they say in sports, ignoring Pioneer stickwork and a particularly vicious second period cross check to the back of Tyson Araujo’s helmet by Pioneer giant goalkeeper, Joe Bassi, decking the Vineyard forward in front of the Pioneer net.
Things have a way of evening out in hockey. Master Bassi found himself slammed to the ice in third period play away from the puck, his feet swept out from under him, perhaps by a passing Vineyarder? The talented and vociferous goalkeeper’s anguished complaint to the referee earned him a minor penalty for excessive chirping, on which the Vineyarders, alas, did not score.
At the 10-minute mark, the Pioneers launched a four-goal, eight-minute blitz, securing the win.
Still, there was much to celebrate on a Saturday night when the Vineyard varsity players, Vineyard mites, a dozen fans, and even Mike Hathaway on the Zamboni all wore camouflage sweaters recognizing Military Appreciation Weekend. The game also marked the conclusion of a fundraising effort to benefit the Wounded Warriors Project. The effort raised $6,025, more than 20 percent higher than the $5,000 goal.
And the U.S. Coast Guard station in Menemsha responded to an MV Times Facebook call for a volunteer to sing the national anthem before the game. USCG Seaman Nicole Cancallare, a diminutive figure with a big voice, gave a sterling rendition as a USCG color guard stood at attention at the far end of the ice under the scoreboard.
The entire crowd delighted to watch the tiny Vineyard mite players scrimmage for 10 minutes to a 2-2 tie between the first and second periods. The teams were differentiated by red and black helmet colors. The Red Tops took an early 2-0 lead before the Black Tops journeyed down the ice twice to tie the score.
And grateful fans huddled at the ArtCliff diner truck, parked by the arena entrance for the duration, in a near blizzard on Saturday night. Mercedes Ferreira, who worked both days at the truck, laughed on a sunny Sunday afternoon.
“The menu favorites last night? Lot of cheeseburgers, hot beef tacos, coffee. Anything hot, really. People were grateful we were here to the end. Good community here,” she said.
On Sunday afternoon, the Vineyarders and Dennis-Yarmouth literally fought to a 4-4 tie in the consolation game featuring eight goals and 18 penalties. D-Y had 11 of the penalties, mostly for roughing. “Consolation games are always this way,” a hockey savant in the stands murmured after a D-Y player lost it and cross-checked two Vineyarders in succession after a second period whistle, earning himself consecutive minor penalties.
In the first period, the Vineyarders slumbered through the first five minutes and found themselves behind, 2-0, until Tyson Araujo scored on an assist by sophomore Steven Brown. Senior Andrew Carroll held his post as the screener in front of the net, ignoring the lumber being liberally applied by a defenseman behind him, allowing Tyson to swoop and score.
The Vineyarders answered a third D-Y goal at the 10:00 minute mark in the second period with a nice score 42 seconds later by Andrew Carroll on a three on one rush, to make the score 3-2 in favor of the Dolphins after two periods. The referees stopped play briefly near the end of the period for a chat with the captains, presumably to discourage further rough play.
The Vineyarders, sparked by third-period goals by Andrew Wiley, which tied the score at 3-3, and a power-play goal from Brian Fraser, put them briefly in the lead, 4-3, until D-Y tied the game on a two-man advantage power play goal with 4:35 left.
The Fraser goal is worth noting because it showed the Vineyarders’ surgical style at its best. Point man Alex Vukota, whose slapshot had defenders wincing all weekend, this time noticed Tyson inside the right circle and passed instead. Tyson slid it to Brian in the middle for the score.
Following the tying goal, the teams happily returned to banging at each other until the final whistle, although acrobatic sophomore D-Y goaltender Justin Servidori robbed the Purple several times in the span. The Vineyarders outshot D-Y 35-16 in the game. Several Dolphin players concluded their Sunday performance by trash talking the Vineyard coaches as the D-Y team exited.
While this was not a highlight reel game start to finish, the Vineyarders are clearly a talented team, and attention to their offensive system and defensive layering could produce good results in the upcoming state tournament. State tournament seeds and matchups will be announced on Saturday for both the girls and boys teams.