Islanders teams take third place in Deep Freeze tourney

The Islanders, top row: Samantha Lester, Margaret Culkins, Maggie Best, Ava Ben David, Ruby Reimann, Lila Mikos, Sydney Lester. Seated: Lily Moran, Ingrid Gunderson, Julia Murray, Caroline Kelleher, Marin Gillis, Paige Anderson, Sarah Hartenstein. - Photo Courtesy of Jim Kelleher

The aptly named Deep Freeze tournament held over the weekend in Waterville Valley, N.H., afforded an opportunity for a combined Martha’s Vineyard–Nantucket women’s team to compete against strong players.

Hockey coach Jim Kelleher said that one of the great results of the Martha’s Vineyard Youth Hockey “grow hockey initiative,” which offers free hockey to beginners, has been the influx of girls into the program. Generally, girls play on teams where they are heavily outnumbered. The Waterville tournament afforded them the opportunity to play with other girls.

Coach Kelleher contacted Nantucket youth hockey and asked if any girls would like to participate in an under-12 all-girls tournament. Six girls responded, but due to scheduling issues, only three were able to attend. The rest of the the 14 girls came from the Vineyard. MVYH program director Geoghan Coogan found jerseys with the Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket logo on the sleeves. The first game was Friday afternoon against a tough team from Arlington. Goalie Sarah Hartenstein did all she could, but the Islanders girls went down in defeat.

The next two games the girls played tough, but having never played together and being much younger (eight of the girls were 10), they struggled to get any offense going. On the final day, it was an early-morning consolation game for third place, a rematch against the Seacoast girls. The Islanders had lost to them earlier 4-0. This time, led by Nantucket’s Sydney Lester, the girls were ready.

They started it off quickly, with Ava Ben David rifling a wrist shot over the goalie’s shoulder to make it 1-0. From then on the Vineyard/Nantucket girls traded goals with Seacoast. Sydney Lester and Margaret Culkins each scored. Going into the third period, the Islanders trailed 4-2, then the Vineyard’s Lily Moran followed up a rebound off a Culkins shot to tie it up. At this point it was up-and-down action, but the girls reached down deep. Sydney Lester scored a goal with under three minutes left to give the girls a 4-3 lead. Seacoast came roaring back, pressuring the goalie, but Sarah Hartenstein was there to make save after save in an exciting final two minutes.

The MV/Nantucket girls received girl hockey-player bobble-head trophies. They were tired, but relieved that they finally won. As they were leaving the locker room, one girl summed up the general feeling: “This was awesome; I hope we can do it again next year.”