Boys Hockey Beats Rockland 5-2, Advances In State Tournament

Hudson Perry confronting a Rockland player after a late hit on one of his teammates.

It was a chippy, physical game at the Nantucket Ice Rink Wednesday afternoon between the 11-seeded Nantucket Whaler boys hockey team and the 22-seeded Rockland Bulldogs in round one of the MIAA Div. 4 state tournament, but the Whalers were able to come away with a 5-2 victory thanks to three goals in the second period.

Whaler winger Cole Evens with a big hit in the second period

“That is the first playoff win this senior group has had,” Nantucket head coach Scott Corbett said. “We played to our DNA. We played our game. We cycled the puck in the offensive zone, we forechecked, we cycled, we did everything that we do. We told them in between periods that we have drilled this into you all season. Now, we just have to go play. Don’t think about it, be loose, just go play hockey and be you. I think that is what we did.”

Sophomore defenseman Hunter Strojny flicked a wrist shot from the point two minutes into the game that senior winger Cole Evens was able to tip and redirect into the back of the net to give the Whalers an early 1-0 lead.

Later on in the period with just over two minutes left, Bulldog’s forward Bryce Marrero took advantage of a lucky bounce off of the referees skate and potted the equalizing goal to make it 1-1, a score that would carry into the first intermission.

The Whalers severely outshot the Bulldogs in the opening period, but Rockland goalie Joey Dow was up to the task.

“I thought we had a great start and looked really good in that first period,” Corbett said. “In my head I am like ‘here we go again we are outplaying them but still tied 1-1.’ That is how our season has gone. We told them to shoot the puck lower from the point and for our far defenseman to cut down to the middle of the ice because Rockland was leaving that wide open. Other than that, there wasn’t much for us to change. We just told the boys to go out there and break this thing open.”

The Whalers had a couple of slow shifts to begin the second period, but they got right back to dominating puck possession were able to strike 4:19 into the second period when senior captain Hudson Perry, who has been playing defense for the Whalers throughout the second half of the season, ripped a slap shot past Dow to make it 2-1.

Five minutes later Jack Billings got into the scoring action, burying a loose puck amidst flailing bodies. Billings later left the game with an injury.

Nantucket’s offensive zone time continued to climb, and senior forward Camden Knapp got into the action with a greasy goal of his own with 1:16 to go in the second period to make it 4-1. Corbett said these seniors, along with Billings, are the ones who need to bring this type of production every game if Nantucket wants to make a deep tournament run.

Knapp (9) jumping into the arms of assistant captain Cosmo Tedeschi after Knapp’s goal

“All of those seniors need to lead us,” Corbett said. “I thought Hudson was Hudson today. He is the most consistent player we have. He shows up every game. I thought Cole and Cosmo Tedeschi had great games today. I thought they moved the puck really well today. I thought Camden was great. I thought (junior) Jack was having a great game too before he got hurt. The effort we are getting out of those guys is the effort we need. As we told them, we are in the point of the season now where we need everybody’s best every shift. That is the only way we move on.”

Evens scored his second goal of the game in the third period to make it a 5-1 game. Rockland went on to get a late goal to finalize the score at 5-2.

Nantucket goalie Griffin Starr greeted by Evens after the Whaler’s fifth goal

“If we play like that on Sunday and it is the Vineyard that we get, Graham (Vineyard goalie) is going to have to stand on his head again because they won’t know what to do. It will be just like it was here today. It is going to be a shooting gallery on Graham.”

The Whalers will play the winner of Martha’s Vineyard and Mashpee/Monomoy in the next round. If the Vineyard wins, Nantucket will travel for their round two game. If the Vineyard loses, Nantucket will host Mashpee/Monomoy. The game will be played on Sunday, Corbett said.

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