The Martha’s Vineyard Regional High School (MVRHS) boys’ varsity hockey team solidified their advancement into the Massachusetts Interscholastic Athletic Association (MIAA) DIII state tournament this past Saturday with a gritty 3-1 win over the Brookline Warriors at home. The team, which is 9-4-2 so far this season, has qualified for the state tournament for the first time in four years.
After a disappointing loss to Mashpee/Monomoy on Thursday, the Vineyarders suited up for their game on Saturday determined to secure their spot in playoffs. The boys pulled ahead with 10:12 left to go in the first period, when freshman Cam Geary scored with an assist from sophomore Pete Gillis. Brookline then countered with a goal of their own, and the second period began tied. Goals by Gillis and assistant captain Colby Zarba (assisted by Geary and sophomore Hunter Meader) sealed the Vineyard victory.
Strong defense contributed to the win. Freshman goalkeeper Graham Stearns tallied an impressive 27 saves in 45 minutes, earning player of the game, a recognition given to the highest-performing player of every game by Vineyard Coaches Matt Mincone, Geoghan Coogan, and Dayce Moore.
The team entered the Cape and Island League this year, which includes three other hockey programs: Nantucket, Mashpee/Monomoy, and Cape Cod Tech, after a nine-year run in the Eastern Athletic Conference. The MVRHS team has gone 4-1 in the league so far, falling only to Mashpee/Monomoy. Depending on their performance against Cape Cod Tech, the team could be champions of the league this season.
Athletic director Mark McCarthy said, “This year’s group of teams are more alike. Almost all of the teams are on the Cape. We are one of the bigger teams in the league currently, which gives us a competitive advantage, especially in hockey. It’s a better fit. If the name isn’t indication enough, it’s where we belong.”
In a postgame write-up at the team’s website (vineyardhockey.com) varsity Coach Matt Mincone said, “With all hands on deck, it was the pride and heart of our team that earned the win.”
On their fourth and final attempt, the seniors will advance to their first-ever tournament game. Senior co-captain Ian Trance said, “The difference this year so far is that we have been playing as a team. I think I speak for everyone when I say that it’s more like a family this year than I’ve ever experienced. We’ve had some new guys stepping up, and some clutch players coming through. That’s why we’ve been successful so far.”
Ian also acknowledged the league change as a factor in their success. He said, “This new league is where we need to be right now. It’s a good change of pace, and I’m proud of how we’re doing so far.”
Girls’ hockey captain Sally Caron said, “It’s so much fun to watch them play. To see their hard work in practice result in games like Brookline makes everyone in the stands even more excited to be there. It’s also awesome for the little kids in the crowd to see these players they look up to working their butts off and winning games.”
Colby said, “Qualifying for the tournament reinforces all of the work we have put in this season, on and off the ice. The team is excited to go up against new, competitive programs in the postseason and see how we match up.”