The Martha’s Vineyard Regional High School girls hockey team suffered a heartbreaking loss to the Nantucket Whalers on senior day in a Cape and Islands League clash at the MV Ice Arena on Monday afternoon.
Evelyn Fey scored on a breakaway with 24 seconds remaining to notch a hat trick and give the Whalers a 5-4 win.
Prior to the goal, the Vineyarders were in the Nantucket end, but lost control of the puck in the high slot. Whalers Emerson Pekarcik and Elizabeth Hemmingway fueled a counterattack and set up Fey, who broke in alone and fired the puck home. Pekarcik scored two goals of her own; Hemmingway had three assists, and Ruby Dupont had four.
For Vineyard Coach John Fiorito, the loss was one of the toughest in his 11 seasons behind the bench. “I just feel for the kids, because they deserve better,” he said. “It’s a rivalry game, a senior game; we’ve had some good things this season we feel like we can build on, and to let that one slip away is frustrating and deflating. I said it two weeks ago when we were tied with Sandwich 1-1 going into the third period [a 4-1 loss on Jan. 30]: We just need some puck luck somewhere along the way, and there were so many times when you thought things were going in our favor, you know, but you create your own fortune, so hopefully we’ll get back at it and we will put in a good performance Wednesday [at Falmouth].”
Before the opening face-off, the team honored seniors Ava BenDavid, Maria Frangos, Ruby Reimann, Avery Simmons, and Aryanna Stevens, who has been sidelined with a concussion.
Six minutes into the game, the Vineyarders struck first. Caroline Kelleher banged in a rebound following Paige Anderson’s shot from the high slot. Emerson Pekarcik equalized on a deflection at 8:38, and the teams went to the first intermission tied at 1-1.
Paige Anderson restored the Vineyard lead just 1:50 into the second period, after snaking through the Nantucket defense and beating goalie Shea Harnishfeger between the pads. Savvy Meader and Caroline Kelleher assisted. On the ensuing faceoff, Ruby Reimann floated a seeing-eye wrister from the right point that trickled in for her first goal of the season, and a 3-1 lead. The Vineyard captain left soon afterward, due to a sore back suffered in the previous game against Barnstable.
“Ruby going down really messes with everything we want to do,” Coach Fiorito said. “We take people out of position. She’s just such a huge cog in what we do defensively, and the minute she went down against Barnstable, it changed everything we do, how we look. She makes people look better.”
Nantucket rallied with two goals late in the period. Pekarcik put in a backhander at close range to net her second score with 2:36 left, and Fey scored her first goal 38 seconds later on a tip-in following a slap shot from the point.
The teams remained deadlocked at 3-3 well into the third period. With 6:25 left, the Whalers went on the power play, and needed just 23 seconds to make it count for a 4-3 lead.
The Vineyarders fought back and tied the game with 3:26 on the clock, as Lily Moran scored her first of the season on a perfect feed from Alana Nevin in front of the crease. Ava BenDavid picked up the other assist.
After Evelyn Fey scored the game winner, Coach Fiorito pulled goalie Frangos, but 24 seconds wasn’t enough time to change the outcome.
“We did some really good things offensively today, but when you’re pressing in the offensive zone, then bad things happen when you don’t take care of the other end, because you’re so fixated on trying to score goals,” Coach Fiorito said.
The Vineyarders (0-6-2) travel to Falmouth on Wednesday, host Dennis-Yarmouth on Saturday (4 pm), and play at Nantucket on Sunday. The Cape and Islands League tournament begins on Tuesday.