Martha's Vineyard loses the shoot-out
With 54 seconds left on the game clock and the Vineyarders trailing 2-1 but enjoying a 5-on-3 advantage with two Coyle-Cassidy players in the penalty box, Nick Billingham, assisted by Tad Gold and Matt Flynn, found a way past Warrior goalie Tim Carey tying the score and sending the game into overtime.
Photos by M.C. Wallo
The game had been a close one from the start.
Neither team scored in the first period, nor was either team penalized. Coyle had 11 shots on goal to the Vineyard's six, but Martha's Vineyard goalie extraordinaire Mike Capen had been up to the task of keeping the Warriors stymied.
Chris Davies posted the game's first point on the scoreboard midway (at 7:55) in the second period taking a pass from Henry Smith. The Islanders' lead lasted just a minute and a half, however, as Evan Lavigne converted a rebound off an Andrew Lallie shot to tie the score.
Martha's Vineyard was penalized twice in the period and C.C. once. The Islanders had taken eight shots on goal, two fewer than the Warriors' 10.
The 1-1 tie was broken at 2:25 of the third frame by Coyle's Dennis Flynn on a power play, assisted by Jay Doherty and Kevin Seely.
Coyle played an effective deny game for most of the remaining time, until Nick Billingham found the back of the net with less than a minute to go. In regulation time (45 minutes), the teams were knotted at 2-2.
An eight-minute overtime period was called for. Both teams were tired and it showed. Neither launched an impressive scoring threat but Martha's Vineyard forced CC goalie Carey to make three saves while Coyle managed only two shots on Mike Capen's net.
Then they stopped playing hockey, a consummate team game, in favor of a series of individual demonstrations of skill and luck in one-on-one, shooter-versus-goalie confrontations.
The Warriors won the game that wasn't a hockey game, 3-2, thus claiming the right to meet Canton, conquerors of Nauset, 3-2, in the other semi-final game. The Division 2 South championship game. Coyle-Cassidy vs. Canton, was played last night at the Gallo Arena.
So, for 21 young men, students at Martha's Vineyard High School, 11 of them seniors, a hockey season ended that began December 13 and included many memorable moments that these young men will enjoy recalling the rest of their lives. Congratulations!
We think that the MIAA should rethink its policy regarding tie games in the playoffs. (No problem during the season. Games may, and often do, end in a tie.)
But the playoffs require a winner for one team to advance to the next level of play. We favor a simple continuation, a la baseball, to find a winner in "extra innings." But if the MIAA feels it must tinker with the format to speed up a decision, why not try increasing the open ice by reducing the number of players. Go with four skaters per team instead of five. If that doesn't work in a reasonable time make it 3 versus 3.
At least they would still be playing a team game that could be called hockey.