Boys hockey hunting for state title

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Updated, Feb. 27

Hockey players on the Martha’s Vineyard Regional High School had some fun early this week ahead of their upcoming bid for the state championship.

The team held a scavenger hunt on Monday, with most of their friends (and the rest of the Island for that matter) away during school vacation week. Players separated into teams and spread out into the community, trying to snag selfies with first responders, DPW workers, bar staff, a judge and anyone else working (some also indulged in a polar plunge).

The idea, says coach and West Tisbury Police Chief Matt Mincone, was to get the kids together and off their phones and engaging with their fans and Islanders.

“It’s our way of saying thank you,” Mincone said. “They’re good kids and this is a fun way for them to be together, and be out in the community and say thank you to everyone working on the Island.”

The scavenger hunt is a yearly tradition held during vacation week and created as a way to keep morale up for the players and keep them busy. This year’s theme was thanking workers. A highlight for Mincone this year: all of the players got a selfie with Judge Benjamin Barnes at the Edgartown District Court; the chief said he was impressed and grateful the judge took time out of his day to meet with players wearing jerseys.

Spirits were high during the hunt with a big game coming up. The Vineyarders are seeded 8th in the Massachusetts Interscholastic Athletic Association championship tournament, out of more than 30 teams. In the first round, they are scheduled to play Greenfield High School from Western, Massachusetts at home at 4:30 pm on Thursday. A win would plunge them deeper into the playoff picture.

And Mincone has high hopes. The team has overcome some adversity this year that could help them excel.

Mincone said that new this season, he placed the team into a league with bigger schools and tougher competition. In years prior, they’ve played in the Lighthouse League, which is generally for smaller schools like Monomoy, Nantucket and Mashpee. But Sandwich dropped out of the Cape and Islands league prior to the beginning of this season, opening up a spot for the Vineyarders. Mincone said that while a challenge, he saw it as a better way to prepare his team for the state tournament.

While it was indeed a challenge, the Vineyarders ultimately ended the season with 9 wins and 9 losses, along with two ties. The .500 season was enough to propel them to a high seed in the playoffs because of the toughness of their schedule.

Mincone said things weren’t looking great at the tail end of the season, when they lost six straight. But in their very last game, the coach says that things seemed to click back into place and the boys found their rhythm, ultimately beating a tough Bourne team to close out the season on a high note.

“We’ve had growth all year long,” Mincone said. “I’m hoping the adversity from the season comes through. I think we’ve got ourselves in a good spot.”

This post has been updated to reflect the new date for the team’s first playoff game, which was postponed due to the forecast.