Boys Hockey Produces Respectable Showing In Hayes Tournament

The Whaler boys hockey team went into the 10th Annual Jeff Hayes Memorial Hockey Tournament on Monday hoping to produce some momentum in their final two games of regular season play before the Div. 4 State Tournament. They began their tournament with a 2-1 shootout loss against the North Reading Hornets and capped it off with a 3-3 tie against the Auburn/Millbury Rockets in a consolation matchup.

The Whalers held their own and carried much of the play against the Hornet’s, a program in the middle of the Div. 3 state tournament bracket, and the Rockets, who are also tournament bound and ranked in the middle of the Div. 2 state tournament bracket.

“I think one of the things I liked most about these last two games in particular was (goalie) Griffin Starr’s play,” head coach Scott Corbett said. “That North Reading game was his best game of the year. He is playing really good hockey and playing really confident. I also liked how we got to play in situations we don’t always have a chance to play in like 3 on 3’s, killing 5 on 3 power plays. There are a lot of good things to take away from this tournament.”

The Whalers played a strong, structured game against North Reading, but Nantucket’s inability to finish on some of their scoring chances cost them on Monday.

Junior winger Jack Billings scored a power play goal less than three minutes into the game to give Nantucket an early 1-0 lead. The Hornets tied it back up shortly after to make it a 1-1 game midway through the first period.

That score would stand all the way through to a shootout. Nantucket battled some adversity early on in the second period, killing two power play opportunities for the Hornets in the first six minutes of the period. After surviving the second period, Nantucket began to establish their forecheck and move the puck quickly through the neutral zone to generate plenty of chances.

Senior captain Hudson Perry scored in the shootout. Starr had a tremendous stick save on the Hornet’s first shootout attempt. But the Hornets won the shootout 2-1. Since shootouts are not played in MIAA regular season games and was only played in this particular game to decide who would move on to the championship game, this game went down as a 1-1 tie for tournament considerations. Since North Reading is a Div. 3 team, the Whalers earned some valuable points and moved up to #8 in their state tournament bracket entering Tuesday’s game, Corbett said.

So the Whalers sailed back to Nantucket for the night but were right back on the boat to travel back to the Gallo Arena in Bourne to take on the Rockets in a consolation matchup after the Sandwich Blue Knights beat Auburn/Millbury 4-2 on Monday.

The game was a physical one from the opening puck drop, but Nantucket didn’t let it bother them. Similar to their round one game, Nantucket jumped out to a quick 1-0 lead after senior forward Cosmo Tedeschi found senior winger Riley Williams in the slot for a chance Williams didn’t let go to waste four minutes into the game.

The Rockets battled back, scoring on a power play a few minutes later.

“They had some great shots on their blue line and they like working it back to those defenseman,” Corbett said. “We were killing it and doing well but couldn’t clear the puck beyond the neutral zone, so we could only change one of our four skaters. They ended up getting a shot from the point, which Griff made a great pad save on, but the rebound went right to one of their players and they buried it.”

The game was 1-1 after one period, and Nantucket played well to begin the second period. Corbett said the defensive zone exits were great, his players were moving through the neutral zone with speed, and this execution helped give Nantucket a 2-1 lead.

The second goal came when the Whalers were able to spring senior captain Hudson Perry up ice with speed thanks to a new breakout they have been working on in practice recently. Perry raced up the ice and weaved through a few defenders, hit eighth grade forward Jeremy Jenkinson with a crisp pass, and Jenkinson circled around the net before finding Perry with a beautiful saucer pass that led to the Whalers retaking their lead.

Then one of the most fiery moments of the game occurred. Billings took a bad hit by a Rocket’s player, which kept Billings down on the ice and in serious pain after being crushed against the boards by a hit right on the numbers.

Corbett, who is almost always mild tempered, saw the hit and Billings in serious pain, and said he went into a frenzy. As he was yelling at the referee about his player being injured, a Whaler defenseman gained control of the puck and took five or six strides in his own zone with no whistle blown by the referee.

“So this is when I start blowing a gasket,” Corbett said. “There was no call at all. Porter (Corbett) is playing defense and has possession in our own zone. The play should be blown dead. Eventually on that shift there is a huge scrum in front of the net for a loose puck and they scored to make it 2-2. I will tell you at this point I am going ballistic. I am ready to throw water bottles on the ice. It was horrible. Jack eventually gets himself up and I get the referee to the bench and ask how there is no call on that. I said ‘it was obnoxious you didn’t make a call on that. This is so bad.’ The guy replies and tells me the Rocket’s player ‘barely kissed him’ as Jack is in a ton of pain on the bench. I say to him ‘look at him on the bench.’

The Rockets went on to score a power play goal later on in the period to put the Whalers in a 3-2 hole entering the final period of play.

“I told the guys we have to let all of this go,” Corbett said. “We can’t complain about no calls or any of that crap. This is like tournament play now where we are down a goal with one period to go and we aren’t getting calls. We had to dig deep and find a way to get that tying goal. It was a very physical game and got even more physical in the third period. Cosmo started laying people out. Jack came out angry and was playing again, he started laying people out. That kid is so tough. Then Camden (Knapp) made it 3-3 in the third period.”

The Whalers and the Rockets would trade chances for the remainder of the third period and in overtime, with penalties being committed by both teams that led to 3 on 3 play for most of the extra period.

“What I liked about (Tuesday) is there are situations we will practice but don’t get to play in games,” Corbett said. “We got to do that today. They had 5 on 3 power play for 1:45 early in third period, but we had a chance to play our triangle penalty kill and killed it off. We play 3 on 3 in practice a lot but normally don’t get that chance in games. This could be valuable experience because that is the format of the second overtime come tournament time.”

“I am happy with how we are playing. The worry right now is we are going to sit for a week. In ways that is good because we have some injuries, but we need to get it ramped back up so we are ready to go in our first tournament game.”

Check back in with the Current later this week to learn more about where the Whaler’s final rank will be and who their first round opponent will be.

Some background on the Jeff Hayes Memorial Hockey Tournament. It was created to honor the late Jeff Hayes, who passed away just over a decade ago after a battle with Ewing’s sarcoma, a rare form of bone cancer. The tournament raises money for the Jeff Hayes Memorial Fund, which provides three scholarships in Hayes’ name at Sandwich High School’s graduation each year.

Nantucket, North Reading, Sandwich, and Auburn/Millbury are the four teams who participated in this year’s tournament. North Reading won the championship game over Sandwich 3-0 Tuesday night.

Written By
More from David Creed

Delroy Lawrence Fosters Basketball Community On Nantucket

If you live on the island and have an interest in basketball,...
Read More