NHL feature to hit YouTube today

The long-awaited documentary short captures the Island’s winter lifestyle.


On Dec. 6, 2022, the National Hockey League’s public relations department announced that a film crew would travel to the Island to shoot a promotional video on the Vineyard’s hockey community, and its year-round culture as a whole. The NHL even hinted that the documentary short would be aired jointly with the Winter Classic at Fenway Park: “As the NHL readies for the 16th annual Winter Classic at Fenway Park in Boston, a local high school team with a unique backstory kicks off their season…” their statement read. But on Jan. 2, 2023, the day of the Winter Classic, the video was nowhere to be found.

Fortunately, the NHL quelled all doubts last weekend by publishing the official trailer for the documentary short, “Hockey Island: Martha’s Vineyard,” and confirmed with The Times that the full video would premiere on Tuesday, Jan. 10. Featuring stunning aerial shots of the Island, interviews with members of the community, and an in-depth look into the Vineyarders’ boys varsity hockey team, the video will likely not disappoint.

When asked what his personal motivation for the endeavor was, senior producer Will Cunningham explained that he had been to the Island many times before, and was specifically inspired by the tenacity of its youth hockey teams. Several years ago, he saw a team of young players boarding the ferry with all of their equipment and realized he could make a story out of the passion and dedication it takes to play hockey on the Vineyard. Most of his crew had been to the Island in the past as well, and were equally enamored by the beauty and culture of Martha’s Vineyard. “The Island of Martha’s Vineyard, located seven miles south of Cape Cod, is a special place with two very distinct identities. In the summer, it’s an escape for the rich and famous. But when the temperatures cool and the days grow shorter, it morphs into a tight-knit hockey community with a very unique set of challenges,” the description under the YouTube trailer reads.

According to Cunningham, filming took place across four days, culminating with the Vineyarders’ game against the Whitman-Hanson Panthers on Saturday, Dec. 10, 2022. Cunningham wanted to keep details of the shooting process largely a surprise, though the trailer shows clips of the Gay Head Lighthouse, Menemsha Beach, a Woods Hole ferry ride, and Martha’s Vineyard Ice Arena, among other locations. He stated that everywhere they went, his film crew were greeted with thank-yous and helping hands. “The people make the whole thing.”



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