Vineyard hockey faced off against tough foes in preseason scrimmages

Boys and girls hockey hit the ice and showed their playing potential.

The Martha’s Vineyard Regional High School girls and boys hockey teams skated for the first time this season in a series of challenging scrimmages against tough Division 1 opponents last weekend. Every player on both teams got ice time.

The girls started play on the road Saturday afternoon in Sandwich as part of an annual jamboree played in support of Children’s Cove, a facility offering support to abused children from the Cape and IsIands. The Vineyard senior players presented a $250 donation check to Sandwich Coach Steve Noll.

Martha’s Vineyard started well, skating to a 2-2 tie with the host Sandwich Blue Knights. The Vineyarders struggled in the next scrimmage against Southeast Massachusetts Girls Hockey League archrival Marshfield. The girls then returned home to the Martha’s Vineyard Arena for a night game against the Medway-Ashland Mustangs.

Playing three scrimmages in one day is a grueling task, but the Vineyard girls gave a good account of themselves on home ice.

MV played the Mustangs straight up throughout the opening period, save for a late goal. The Vineyarders were disciplined defensively, and bottled up Medway with solid forechecking.

The Mustangs carried the play throughout the second period, piling up shots on Vineyard goalie Julia Bettencourt, who responded with several fine saves. Despite Medway’s territorial edge, the Vineyarders had two golden opportunities to score. The Mustang netminder thwarted both at point-blank range.

Lauren Boyd put the Vineyard on the board in the final period, executing a perfect wraparound by skating behind the Mustang cage and backhanding the puck inside the right post.

Sunday morning, the Vineyarders turned in another fine effort against the talented Needham Rockets. Natalija Lakis tallied twice, and Meghan Sonia added another goal for the hosts. Julia Bettencourt continued her stellar play between the pipes, helping the Vineyarders post a 1-0 edge in the second period.

“Julia Bettencourt played out of her head,” Vineyard girls coach John Fiorito said. “We played great. We generated some offense. Natalija [Lakis] scored the first goal on a breakaway … it was fun.”

The Vineyard boys also had an action-packed weekend at the Martha’s Vineyard Ice Arena.

Friday night, the Vineyarders skated against Acton-Boxborough (A-B) in a freewheeling, hard-hitting contest. The locals were at their best in the opening 15 minutes. Once A-B lit the lamp midway through the first 30-minute session, the action tilted toward the Vineyard end for the duration. MV scored twice in the final period. Tristan Araujo drilled in a slap shot from the right point, and freshman Colby Zarba scored the second goal.

The Vineyarders had perhaps their best outing Saturday morning against Falmouth, Maine, scoring three goals against the two-time Class A state champs from the Pine Tree State.

By Saturday afternoon, the relentless pace of the weekend began to take its toll. The Vineyard icemen took on the Framingham Flyers, a team built on size and speed. Time constraints forced the teams to play one long 50-minute period. The Vineyarders never lost their grit, but didn’t have an answer for Framingham’s fast, powerful attack.

“We were reacting to speed, and you can’t react to speed,” Vineyard boys coach Matt Mincone said. “You have to be proactive and try to get in the way of it, and make them move into different lanes. I’m optimistic that it’s a fixable thing. It’s very coachable, the mistakes we were making.”

Cutting down on rebounds is another priority.

“We were watching the puck, and not moving the guy out and letting the goalie tie up his rebounds,” Coach Mincone said.

Overall, the coach was pleased with his team’s effort throughout the weekend.

“Those three teams that were here are really quality teams,” he said. “That’s why I bring them here … we gave all three of them all the effort that we had.”

The boys are back on home ice this weekend for three more scrimmages; Friday night vs. Natick, Saturday morning vs. Oyster River of Durham, N.H., and Saturday afternoon vs. Lexington. The girls, meanwhile, begin regular-season play Saturday at Brookline.