Before advancing to the Elite 8, the Vineyarders’ boys hockey team had to take on No. 25 Fitchburg/Montachusett Tech for the first round of the playoffs. And they came out to play, winning 5-1 over the Red Raiders.
In the first period, the Vineyarders came out hot, with junior Liam Conley quickly making a nice run on the Fitchburg goal, and sophomore Frankie Paciello nearly burying the rebound. Less than a minute later, senior captain Nick Rego snagged a loose puck from center ice and lobbed a tumbling muffin into the offensive zone, somehow making its way past the Fitchburg goalie.
With 13 minutes to go in the period, both teams settled in, and proceeded to exchange a handful of decent plays on net. Some solid goalkeeping from MVRHS’ Zach Mathias and Fitchburg’s Owen Richard kept the score at 1-0, until the Vineyarders broke through again with 29 seconds left, when sophomore Nate Averill intercepted a pass in the offensive zone, and assisted sophomore Hunter Johnson to make it 2-0.
In the second period, the Vineyarders continued playing aggressively, applying lots of pressure on both ends of the rink. Led by senior co-captains and defensemen Nick BenDavid and Nick Rego, MVRHS dominated the puck, and did a great job of holding it in the offensive zone. Paciello scored twice in the period, once off a deflection with 11 minutes to go, and again with 1:26 remaining, assisted by Liam Conley in front of the net.
Finally, in the third period, the Vineyarders continued to fend off the Red Raiders, and held on for the 5-1 win. Liam’s twin brother Aiden scored the Vineyarders’ fifth goal, assisted by Liam and Paciello. Meanwhile, on the defensive end, Mathias recorded 13 saves, and BenDavid was named Coach Matt Mincone’s Player of the Game. Rego earned the Zamboni award, with a plus-five goal differential.