The Vineyarder boys varsity hockey team turned a week of personal examination into a 3-2 win over the Bourne High School Canalmen Saturday night at the Gallo Ice Arena in Bourne. Matt Mincone, coach of the Martha’s Vineyard Regional High School (MVRHS) boys hockey program, changed up some groupings, and the team spent off-ice time assessing themselves and one another in a series of team meetings designed to develop more accountability and enhanced expectations of themselves. Mincone believes he has a special group of talent, and has been working to unlock its full potential.
Saturday night it was working. “We outshot them 33-14, we were committing to possession and working the corners and boards,” he said after the game. “That’s what we were looking for, that kind of commitment to possessing the puck. Some kids were not winning those puck battles on the boards, not because they were afraid of getting hit, but because they were afraid of making a mistake,” he said.
In the old days, coaches called out underachieving players in front of the team. Our gentler, softer culture has substituted private one-on-one chats with players. “Culturally, there has been a huge change in coaching that way. But they voted to have an open meeting. They wanted to know what I thought of each of them,” Mincone said.
Catharsis can be icky when you’re going through it, but the results are generally worth it. “They wanted transparency. I began to see the results in practice this week: commitment, accountability, all of it,” Mincone said, obviously proud of the team’s animation.
“We re-established the depth chart, reshuffling to get what the team needed. I saw a lot more grit and accountability for each other on Saturday,” he said. “This is a special group that way. They respond,” he said, noting that Pete Gillis received the Player of the Game award. “Pete really turned up the compete dial on Saturday,” Mincone said. The Purple played without senior captain Colby Zarba, who was out sick Saturday.
Mincone made some grouping changes on Saturday, putting big guy senior Hunter Meader on a line with the speedy Marek brothers, freshman Liam and junior Aiden. It paid off: Meader had two goals and an assist, Liam had a goal, and Aiden, three assists. Hoffie Hearn added two assists. All the Purple goals were on the power play as frustrated Canalmen took seven penalties to the MVRHS four miscues.
The Vineyarders are at the halfway mark in the season, with 10 games played, and at 6-2-2, have 14 of the 20 points needed to qualify for the postseason. In the Cape and Islands League Lighthouse Division, Nantucket currently leads the way, with the Vineyarders and Dennis-Yarmouth close behind.
The Vineyarders play in Hyannis on Wednesday against Lighthouse rivals Mashpee-Monomoy and Sunday away at Bishop Stang, then finish the season with home games in seven of the final eight matches.