Vineyard icemen freeze Whalers

MV strikes early and late in shutout of Nantucket.

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Martha’s Vineyard faced off with island rival Nantucket for the first time as members of the Cape and Islands League in a boys hockey matinee on Saturday at the MV Ice Arena.

The Vineyarders got off to a fast start and skated to a 3-0 win, improving to 4-2-2 overall and 2-0 in the C & I, while the Whalers dropped to 1-4-1 and 1-1.

Vineyard goalie Mike Metcalf earned the shutout between the pipes, stopping 16 Whaler shots. “He made the timely saves, and he’s patient and responsible with what he’s doing,” Vineyard Coach Matt Mincone said. “No moment seems bigger than the next, and it would appear to be rubbing off on our younger goaltender, Graham Stearns. Mike got crashed into his net at one point. He was upset for a second, but his maturity and experience didn’t allow that to affect him.”

Eighty-nine seconds after the opening face-off, Jackson Pachico fired a shot from the point and freshman Cam Geary redirected the puck past Whalers goalie James Culkins for a Vineyard 1-0 lead. Kenny Hatt doubled the margin eight minutes later, scoring on the power play from Ian Trance and Pachico.

In the second period, the hosts fought off a 5-on-3 Whalers power play, with Metcalf and Geary playing a big part. “Between Mike and the freshman Cam Geary, who was the forward on the ice, between the two of them, they were the penalty killers, really,” Coach Mincone said. “Cam angled the player with the puck to the outside, which minimized shots from the high-percentage areas. Any shots that were allowed, Mike was up to the task.”

The Vineyarders saved their best play for period three, and put the Whalers on ice with 4:03 remaining on a Hunter Ponte insurance goal, assisted by Colba Zarba. “We started off, you know, it was emotional, it’s Nantucket, of course,” said Coach Mincone. “I would say in the second period we kind of dialed it back a little bit, which you’d think would be the reverse, but then in the third period we played a lot more disciplined, and we were beating them to loose pucks by that point. It’s been showing the past few games where we haven’t been competing every shift, but they know it. We’re getting better at it.”

The Vineyarders started off the new year with a rare 0-0 tie against former Eastern Athletic Conference rival Bishop Stang on Jan. 2 at Hetland Arena in New Bedford. Freshman goaltender Graham Stearns stopped every Spartans shot to post the shutout and earn player of the game honors.

“A carbon copy of the Oyster River game that we lost at UNH [Dec. 29],” Coach Mincone said. “We lost, 3-2, but we were kind of flat. We weren’t flat against Stang, but we were reacting. We weren’t being proactive to where the puck was. It left us behind the play a little bit. It was a good game to watch. All these games are good to watch. We’re giving effort for the 45 minutes. It’s whether or not we’re actually getting to those pucks that we’re trying to react to what other teams are doing, especially in our defensive zone, but we’re fixing that.”