The Martha’s Vineyard Regional High School boys hockey varsity team dropped a pair of games last weekend at the MV Ice Arena, losing 4-1 to Bishop Stang on Saturday morning, then 3-2 in a nailbiter against Dennis-Yarmouth on Monday afternoon.
For the devoted fan, the two games, while they had frustrating moments, also presented a positive outline of what is to come from this young group.
Facing off at 10 am on Saturday morning, the Vineyarders went down 3-0 after one period to the Spartans, who came out firing, pressuring Vineyarder goalie Zach Fullin with a dozen first-period shots.
The second period looked to be more of the same as Stang had a breakaway chance off the opening face-off, smothered by Mr. Fullin.
Now, It’s difficult to know how or why the light bulb goes on in competitive sports, particularly for young teams like the Vineyarders, but at the three-minute mark of the second period, it all changed. The Vineyarders stormed back to cut the lead to 3-1 on a sweet Willson Slayton setup for Colby Zarba, who snapped it home from five feet.
From that moment on, Vineyarders were flying all over the ice, diving to block shots, instinctively presenting themselves with quality scoring chances, showing up as a team in the process of becoming successful.
Stang would add a fourth goal late in the second to end the scoring, but the Spartans got all they wanted from a Vineyarder offense that created multiple chances in the frame. The boys were banging for the last two periods, as officials whistled 14 penalties in total, including seven in the third period.
MVRHS Coach Matt Mincone has been doing this for 20 years, and enjoyed the team ignition he saw this weekend. “If I knew how that happens, believe me, I’d tell you. They drove four hours, and we came out flat. It’s a photocopy of our season. We seem to take four or five or seven minutes off in games, dig holes for ourselves. When we snap out of it, we are playing at a top competitive level,” he said.
Mr. Mincone likes the character and the players in his charge. “We are not playing scared, we are working hard. We are a whole bunch of blue-collar players working to be good teammates. On an individual level, we are seeing improvements. We make mistakes and have to learn to forget about them,” he said.
The Vineyarders were wide awake on Monday afternoon against Dennis-Yarmouth, taking a pair of one-goal leads. The Vineyarders went up 1-0 in the first period on junior Willson Slayton’s second goal in two games.
D-Y tied it 1-1 midway through the second period before Mr. Slayton and sophomore Colby Zarba set up junior Colin Henke’s go-ahead goal early in the third period for a 2-1 lead. D-Y struck twice in less than four minutes in the third for the win. D-Y (2-10) tallied at 7:36 to tie at 2-2, then scored the gamer with 4:03 left to seal the deal, despite a 28-shot onslaught on D-Y keeper Connor Medeiros in the contest. Vineyarder keeper Zach Fullin stopped 16 Dolphin shots.
The Vineyarders, now at 2-9, next travel to Bishop Feehan on Wednesday afternoon before returning to the MV Ice Arena on Saturday for a 5 o’clock face-off against a young Cardinal Spellman (1-10) squad.