Vineyarders runners-up in Nan Rheault tourney

Hockey girls sink Sailors in shootout; fall to BMW/ORR in championship game.


We’re told lightning never strikes twice in the same place, but you couldn’t tell that to an upbeat,  anticipatory crowd at the Martha’s Vineyard Ice Arena early Sunday afternoon.

Fans were waiting to cheer for the Martha’s Vineyard Regional High School girls hockey squad at the 18th annual Nan Rheault Tournament championship game between their beloved Islanders and a composite Bourne/Mashpee/Wareham/Old Rochester Regional (BMW/ORR) team.

And why not? Just 14 hours earlier, the Vineyarders beat Scituate High School in a long, dramatic shootout to advance to the Nan Rheault tourney finals, with a chance to win the competition for the second time.

But BMW/ORR scored twice in the second period, and added two late-game goals, including an empty-netter, to take the championship by a 4-0 score. BMW/ORR reached the finals by dispatching Dover Sherborn/Hopkinton (DS/H) by a 2-1 count on Saturday afternoon.

Scituate beat DS/H 3-0 for third place on Sunday morning.

The Vineyarders played Sunday afternoon without sophomore standout Lauren Boyd, sidelined with an injury suffered Saturday night. Certainly Ms. Boyd’s absence made a difference, but the 7-3-1 Canalwomen came out flying, and only the work of Vineyarder Amelia Simmons between the pipes sent the teams to the locker room scoreless after one period.

Ms. Simmons had 30 saves on the evening, and 49 for the tournament. The young Vineyarders picked up their game midway through the second period, and made the contest closer than the score indicates.


Vineyarders win shootout thriller over Scituate in Nan Rheault opener

In the wacky world of sports, things sometimes have a funny way of working out. Sixty-five seconds into the opening-round game between Martha’s Vineyard and Scituate on Saturday night, Vineyard junior Sally Caron had an innocent pass from the point deflect off the heel of her skate into the net to give Scituate a 1-0 lead.

Nearly two hours later, after a 2-2 regulation tie, 7½ minutes of overtime, and seven rounds of a tiebreaking shootout, Ms. Caron found herself standing at center ice with the chance to break the deadlock and send her team into the championship game on Sunday. Sally took the puck, skated 85-plus feet toward the Scituate net, moved slightly to the right, and lifted a wrister past Sailors goalie Audrey Marhoffer on the glove side to clinch the shootout, 6-5.

“I don’t know what was going on, but basically they [the officials] told me that if I stopped it was over, so I just went for it,” Ms. Caron said. “I knew that all the goals before had been up high, so I knew to shoot up high, then took everything I’ve learned in the past three years and went for it.”

Of the three previous Vineyard goals in the shootout, two were indeed high-wristers, one by Ava BenDavid and another by Veronica Wendt. Lauren Boyd scored the first goal by deking the Scituate goalie from left to right and slotting the puck into the cage on the forehand. All three goals were to the glove side.

The other half of the equation, Vineyard goalie Amelia Simmons, made five stellar saves in the shootout, a half-dozen or more in the overtime, and several others during regulation play.

“Right before [the shootout], the ref was like, ‘You probably don’t understand this,’ and I said ‘No, I’ve never done this before, ever, ever in my life,’” Ms. Simmons said. “Every single shot, I was like, ‘Well, hope I don’t mess up.’” She didn’t. She used her pads, her stick, her glove, and finally her chest on the final attempt to thwart the Sailors.

Officially, the game between the two longtime rivals will go into the Southeast Massachusetts Girls Hockey League books as a 2-2 regular-season tie. The reality, from a Vineyard point of view, was a big, big win.

“Those kids were so nervous, our goalie was so nervous,” Vineyard Coach John Fiorito said after the thrilling shootout. “We talked about being athletes and dealing with adversity. I couldn’t be happier. They deserve something good to happen to them. We’re not the most talented team, but they worked so hard. I hated that it had to come down to a shootout and overtime and all that stuff, but, my God, I’m so happy we won — for them.”

During regulation play, the Vineyarders responded with two strong shifts after Mia Filardi put the Sailors on top 1:05 into the game. Meghan Sonia spearheaded the Vineyard attack, and got off two quality shots, one from a breakaway and another from the left circle.

Midway through the first period, the teams traded power-play goals 62 seconds apart. Courtney Cutting put Scituate up 2-0 at 7:43, popping in a rebound in front of the crease after Amelia Simmons had made the initial save. Lauren Boyd lit the lamp at 8:45 for the Vineyarders, and brought the crowd alive by drilling a slapshot from the right point that took a deflection and skipped through Audrey Marhoffer’s pads. Hailey Meader and Alana Morris picked up assists.

The hosts carried the momentum for the remainder of the period. Two minutes before the first intermission, Alana Morris scored her first varsity goal, assisted by Meghan Sonia.

The wide-open, exciting play continued for the duration of the contest with both goalies, Marhoffer and Simmons, standing on their heads to keep the score knotted at two.

“Everyone stood out,” Coach Fiorito said. “Hailey Meader played out of her head. We’re not necessarily deep, but everyone who played, played meaningful shifts. To recover from down 2-0, we don’t score a lot of goals, after what was a bad break … Sally Caron played out of her head after that puck deflected off her skate. She recovered and played so well after that. And Amelia Simmons. She’s new, and she’s worked so hard. She made a bunch of saves and stopped five of eight [in the shootout]. That’s awesome.”