Martha’s Vineyard girls win Nan Rheault Invitational hockey tourney

Photo by Michael Cummo

Updated 3 pm, Tuesday

The Martha’s Vineyard Regional High School (MVRHS) girls varsity hockey team won its first Nan Rheault Invitational tournament Sunday afternoon at the Martha’s Vineyard Ice Arena with a hard-fought 1-0 victory over Quincy/North Quincy high schools.

The championship was the first for the MVRHS girls in the 14 years the Island has hosted the tournament. The game was a disciplined, grinding contest between two evenly matched teams.

Senior Sydney Davies scored with 12:20 to play in the first period on an assist from Kylie Hatt. The Vineyarders (6-3-2) made the lone goal stand up for the remainder of the game and the victory.

Early in the championship game, it was clear that goaltending and executing the little things would decide the outcome. In the stands during the second period, longtime Island hockey buff Hank Smith murmured as assessment. “This is as good as it gets,” he said. “You just don’t know who’s going to win. The most tenacious team, I think.”

Tenacity was indeed the hallmark of a close-checking contest in which both teams denied their opponent space in which to operate. The goaltending was acrobatic and sensational at both ends.

Unflappable Vineyarder Jackie Hegarty stood her ground during several furious, close-in shot and rebound bids. Sophomore Quincy netminder Karissa Beal advertised a bright future by stoning Ms. Ashmun close in and by literally standing on her head after thwarting another Vineyarder bid.

One day after the victory, Coach John Fiorito expressed his pride in the team. “I am so happy for these kids and this win,” Mr. Fiorito told The Times in a conversation Monday. “Quincy is a talented team, a gritty city team. We always put our focus on defense, and that requires understanding the fundamentals and doing the little things the right way.

“We have Aubrey [Ashmun] , who’s closing in on a 100-point career [52 goals and 46 assists at present], and Sydney [Davies], who’s tied for points on the season with Aubrey, but as a team, we have to work hard to score. We have good athletes, and at our level of talent, everyone has to do the little things on defense. Doing the basics well doesn’t require all the talent in the world, but it requires understanding the fundamentals and positional play, like protecting the front of our net.”

Saturday victory paved the way

Compared with the intensity of the championship game, the team’s 9-3 win over Scituate High School on Saturday that propelled the girls to the championship round was a day at the beach. The Vineyarders jumped out early with five goals in the first period, catching Scituate defenders up-ice, and scoring on several breakaways.

Senior Aubrey Ashmun showcased the skills that will take her to the next level, playing for Holy Cross College in Worcester next year. Her rink-long dashes netted her two goals and an assist. Sydney Davies also scored a pair. Julia Levesque, Belle Dinning, Olivia Ogden, Kylie Hatt, and Katrina Lakis scored a goal each, Ms. Lakis tallying her first varsity goal. Her sister, sophomore Natalija Lakis, nearly matched Katrina when a pass intended for Natalija at the wide-open left side of the net was deflected by a defender at the last moment.

“I was happy to win against Scituate, because we are similar programs, started at the same time, became competitive at the same time, and they have beaten us a lot,” coach John Fiorito said. “Their goaltenders are both new to the sport. I told the kids to keep shooting, and it worked out.”

The game settled down after the first period, and the Vineyarders outscored Scituate 4-3 the rest of the way.

Scituate won the Sunday consolation round with a 7-2 victory over Peabody High School.

The Quincy team advanced to the championship round with a 4-1 win over Peabody on Saturday.

“I think our game has come a long way,” Mr. Fiorito said. “This group understands fundamentals and the need to do things the right way. The veteran presence goes a long way in hockey. Seniors like Kiara Vought, Megan Hurley, and Katrina Lakis have been asked to play big minutes, and they have stepped up to that role.”

The Vineyarders have 14 points (two points for wins, one point for a tie), and need six more points in their last nine games to qualify again for the state tournament. Next up is Bishop Stang at the Martha’s Vineyard Ice Arena on Saturday, Jan. 24, at 5 pm.