Vineyard Varsity Teams Win Playoff Berths

By BRETT FERRY

Two varsity teams at the Martha's Vineyard Regional High School won key games on the road Wednesday, earning berths in tournament play.

The boys' hockey team secured a spot in the MIAA tournament by defeating Barnstable 4-2 in a comeback victory.

"This was a huge game for us," said coach Matt Mincone. "Definitely a tournament-type game."

Despite being outshot by the Vineyard 10-3, Barnstable led the game 2-1 at the end of the first period.

"We only gave up three shots in the first period and two were goals," said the coach.

Late in the first period, defenseman Curtis Chandler converted a pass from Ben Gunn into the Vineyard's first goal.

Coach Mincone switched goalies at the break. Jeff Smadbeck replaced Dan VanLandingham in the net and shut out Barnstable for the rest of the game.

Goaltending was equally strong at the other end of the ice. Barnstable's Mike Kennedy allowed only one goal in the second period, when Ben Gunn assisted Kraig Mundt to tie the score 2-2. Kennedy recorded 25 saves for the night.

The tie was not broken until late in the final period when Zach Pepper assisted Ben Gunn for a goal with less than three minutes left on the clock.

With 11 seconds left, Brandon Sylvia took advantage of an untended Barnstable net and added another goal, making the final score 4-2.

"It was the first day in a while that I had the whole lineup back," said Coach Mincone, who this season has lost more players to sickness than injury.

"A lot of our drills from practice are starting to come out in games," he said. "Our penalties have dropped way off lately."

Derek Avaikian has come back from a minor injury in full strength and had no penalties Wednesday night, said the coach.

The hockey team has met its first goal of the season, which was to qualify for the tournament. Now they face their second goal, to win their own tournament on the Vineyard on Feb. 15 and 16.

"Now that we've qualified for the tournament, we can start focusing on our own tournament," said Coach Mincone. "I feel pretty good about things at the moment. We just need to stay consistent."

The girls' basketball team also qualified for the MIAA tournament, winning their 10th game against Harwich, 53-48.

The Vineyard kept ahead by a few points through most of the game, then pulled away in the final minutes.

"It was a very physical game," said coach Mary MacDonald. "We hadn't had a game in a week and a half. We looked a little sloppy, but everybody contributed and scored."

Vineyard scoring was again led by Jen Knight and Kelsey MacDonald, with 14 and 13 points respectively.

Amanada Klein returned strong with seven points after being out for four games with an ankle injury.

"[Klein] wasn't in as much as I'd like," said Coach MacDonald. "Hopefully she'll get stronger and stronger with every game."

With a tournament slot secured, the girls are now focused on a strong finish to the season. Tomorrow they host state powerhouse Fontbonne at 2 p.m.

Fontbonne is the toughest team on the Vineyard's schedule. A 28-point loss to them just a few weeks ago is still fresh in the girls' minds.

"Hopefully we can step up and play better than we did earlier in the season," said Coach MacDonald.

Jade Mazza missed Wednesday night's game with an injury, but the team is expected in full for tomorrow's game.

"We really want to try to win as many games as we can so we can get a good seed in the tournament, and maybe get a game at home," said Coach MacDonald.