The Martha’s Vineyard Regional High School boys hockey team traveled many miles by land and sea to play back-to-back road games over the weekend. They got the most from their travels by winning both games, to finish the regular season as Cape and Islands League Lighthouse Division co-champions.
Saturday, the Vineyarders made the 12-hour round-trip to Nantucket. Two weeks ago, the teams battled for first place in the division at the MV Ice Arena, and the Whalers headed back home with a 5-1 win. This time, the Vineyarders earned some payback in a big way.
Junior Jake Cleland stepped up in place of the injured Mike Wallace, and claimed player of the game honors with two goals and an assist as the Purple rolled to a 7-1 win, the 200th win of Coach Matt Mincone’s career
Hunter Meader finished with a goal and two assists; Cam Geary had one of each; Jake Scott, Nick BenDavid, and Sam Hoyt each tallied once; Aiden Marek had three assists, and Eli Gundersen added two more. Winning goalie Oliver Lively made 18 saves in the Vineyard net.
“Mike Wallace has been one of my defensive forwards for four years, who I rely on. With him being out of the lineup, it was time for someone to step up, so Jake Cleland got an opportunity, told me he wouldn’t let me down, and he certainly did not,” Mincone said.
Meader opened the scoring at 9:44 of the first period, snapping in a wrist shot from a sharp angle in the left circle. Cleland doubled the MV lead 2:12 later with a drive inside the right post to earn his first varsity goal.
The Vineyarders poured it on in the second period. Seconds after the opening face-off, Eli Gundersen banked the puck off the righthand boards to spring Liam Marek and Cam Geary on a 2-on-1. Marek hit Geary with a drop pass and Cam cut to the net, deked left, and beat Whaler goalie James Culkins with a backhander inside the left post for a 3-0 lead.
Four minutes later, Jake Cleland skated over center and flipped the puck into the Nantucket zone. The puck bounced by a Whaler defender to Jake Scott, who buried a wrister top right from the high slot.
The Vineyarders made it 5-0 with 4:47 left in the period. Surrounded by the entire Nantucket team, Nick BenDavid took a perfect feed from Liam Marek stationed behind the Whaler net and lifted the puck past Culkins from the low slot.
Late in the period, the Whalers broke Oliver Lively’s shutout bid with a power-play goal. It’s all they would get.
The Vineyarders sealed the win with a pair of third-period goals. Jake Cleland scored his second of the game with a dinger off the left post at 8:37 to polish off a 2-on-1, and Sam Hoyt tipped in Aiden Marek’s blueline blast with 4:58 to play.
MV came into the game with their island rivals battle-tested after a strong, spirited effort in a 3-1 loss against powerful Division 1 Falmouth on Feb. 17.
“Everything kind of came together,” Coach Mincone said. “We worked up to the game against Nantucket and made sure that we didn’t leave anything on the ice whatsoever. The kids came together, they played with that same kind of energy we had against Falmouth.”
The following afternoon, the Vineyarders were back in action against Mashpee/Monomoy at Tony Kent Arena in South Dennis, and rallied to beat the Monarchs, 3-1.
After a scoreless first period, M/M took the lead by converting a 3-on-1 break early in the second. Oliver Lively made the initial save, but the Monarchs scored on the rebound.
MV roared back with three consecutive power-play goals.
Aiden Marek tied the game at 5:36, punctuating an end-to-end rush with a shoulder fake and a sharp angle snapper from the left circle. Cam Geary put the visitors in front at 7:57 after redirecting Aiden Marek’s wrister from the left point, and Jake Scott scooped a cross-ice feed from Cam Geary into a yawning cage during a five-minute high-sticking major to close out the scoring. Hunter Meader had the other assist.
Oliver Lively made 14 saves to get the win in goal, and Aiden Marek was named player of the game.
The Vineyarders (8-5-0 overall) ended the regular season tied with Nantucket at 7-1-0 atop the Lighthouse Division standings. The Whalers won the coin toss to claim the top seed in the upcoming C&I tournament. After a MV student tested positive for COVID-19, the team was eliminated from the tournament, and Dennis-Yarmouth, which the team was scheduled to play Thursday, advances in the tournament.