Ursuline Academy girls win Nan Rheault hockey tourney

Bears beat host Vineyarders in final, 4-1.


Updated Jan. 22

The Ursuline Academy girls hockey team captured the 20th annual Nan Rheault Invitational Tournament by beating Martha’s Vineyard at the Ice Arena on Sunday. The Bears, losers of one game this season, outlasted the determined hosts to earn a hard-fought 4-1 victory for the title. Old Rochester Regional/Bourne-Mashpee-Wareham topped Scituate in the consolation game, 5-2.

The action began on Saturday when the four entrants paired off in two semifinal games. Both were nail-biters. In the opener, Ursuline edged ORR/BMW, 3-2. The Vineyarders and Scituate followed with a wide-open affair that went down to the wire. The Vineyard enjoyed a 6-3 lead midway through the third period, on the strength of two goals by Caroline Kelleher and one each by Alana Nevin, Paige Anderson, Skyla Harthcock, and Ava BenDavid. It was Ava’s goal with 6:52 remaining in the third period, giving the Vineyard a three-goal lead, that would stand as the game winner. Things got tense when the Sailors scored twice within 48 seconds, then pulled their goalie for an extra skater, but the home team clamped down on defense to seal the win.

The final on Sunday was a terrific hockey game. The bigger, faster Ursuline team had the edge throughout, executing impressively in all facets of the game, and testing Vineyard goalie Amelia Simmons. But the Vineyard girls would prove every bit as tenacious as this entertaining contest unfolded. 

The first period started fast, and stayed that way. Although outmatched in puck control and scoring chances, the Vineyarders forechecked aggressively, and harried the Sailor forwards in front of the net. When Ursuline did manage open shots, they had Amelia to contend with. The senior goaltender was immense, turning away shots from all angles, and neatly clearing or covering up the puck. 

Meanwhile, the Vineyard offense generated numerous rushes up-ice, but struggled to put consistent pressure on Ursuline goalie Lucy Reardon. The first period ended in a scoreless tie. 

The pace did not let up in period two. Again, the Bears carried the play, again the hosts battled, again Amelia held the fort. Then,10 minutes into the period, the puck rolled Ursuline’s way. In a jam-up in front of the Vineyard net, with Amelia in crouched position, the puck deflected off the stick of Ursuline’s Emily McHugh, nestled on Amelia’s back and trickled into the goal. When senior Bridget Popkin converted on a nifty move from the crease at the 1:06 mark, Ursuline had a 2-0 lead, and all the momentum they would need. The Bears tallied twice in the final period before Vineyarder Alana Nevin, assisted by Ava BenDavid, put the hosts on the board with 6:22 to go to make it a 4-1 final.

“I was proud of our effort this weekend,” said Vineyard Coach John Fiorito. “We hung in there on Sunday against a very good team. Amelia had 52 saves on the weekend. She was great, as was [senior captain] Lauren Boyd, our defensive leader playing in her last Rheault tournament. With so many good teams remaining on our schedule,” he added, “we need to continue that effort in order to compete in the last eight games.” 

That eight-game stretch begins with four road games, starting Saturday against Falmouth at 5 pm. The girls, now 3-7-2 on the season and 1-4-2 in the C&I League, will face Fontbonne Academy on Saturday, Feb. 8, in their next home game.

Updated to add more details. — Ed.