Boys Hockey Earns Gutsy Win Over Dennis-Yarmouth In Physical League Matchup

David Creed •

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After an 0-3 start to their season, the Nantucket boys hockey team knew their record did not reflect who they really were. Since that time they have won 10 of their last 11 games and catapulted up the Div. 4 state tournament bracket rankings as the #5 seed. They are now 10-4 this season following a 4-2 win over the Dennis-Yarmouth Dolphins, who are currently the #7 seed in the MIAA’s bracket.

It was junior center Ryan Davis leading the way for Nantucket once again with two goals and an assist. Junior center Colby O’Keefe had an assist on all four of Nantucket’s goals. The Whalers went into the game without freshman forward Jeremy Jenkinson, who was scoring at a point per game pace before being injured in two games ago. They also were without their top defenseman Michael Culkins.

DY head coach Lew Alberti said before the game his team was also missing a couple of players, so both teams entered this game knowing they needed to dig deep.

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But this Nantucket team never seems to dwell on who is missing from the lineup or how a game is trending. That attitude doesn't have a place in that locker room to the delight of head coach Jack Moran, who said after the game that this group continues to amaze him over and over.

“These guys played their hearts out,” Moran said. “We told them before the game that this was going to be one of the deepest ones they’d have to dig for. It was an uphill battle and we knew it was going to be. We told them if any team could do it, it was going to be them.”

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The Whalers dominated the opening period, outshooting DY 14-1. That was in large part because of a five-minute major penalty called on the Dolphins that gave Nantucket a guaranteed five minutes of power play time that would not go away no matter how many goals were scored.

For the first three minutes the Dolphins did a good job on their penalty kill. But freshman winger Canton Jenkinson put an end to that and ripped a shot high blocker side finding the smallest bit of room underneath the crossbar to give Nantucket a 1-0 lead with 7:58 left in the first.

Davis showed off his wrist shot 50 seconds later. His shot has been lethal all year and he sent a beauty high glove side to extend Nantucket’s lead to 2-0.

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DY came out much stronger in the second period and began to take advantage of Nantucket getting into penalty trouble. The Dolphins had four power play opportunities in the middle period. They failed to score on the first chance but made the Whalers pay on the second and third opportunities to tie the game 2-2. DY outshot Nantucket 11-6 in the period and had an impressive response to Nantucket's opening surge.

Both teams amped up the physical play as the game went on, escalating the tempo of the game to one you’d expect between two of the state's best in Div. 4.

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The third period didn’t have much offense, ending with just nine shots on net between the two sides. But with 4:24 to go in the game Nantucket got a power play opportunity and a chance to take the lead. Thirty seconds into the man advantage there was a scramble for a loose puck around the DY crease. It was junior defenseman Braden Knapp who found it and buried it to give Nantucket a 3-2 lead in the final minutes of the game.

Just seconds later Davis took a puck off the faceoff and made his way into the offensive zone. He let another wrist shot rip that found its way to the back of the net and it gave the Whalers some insurance in the form of a 4-2 lead.

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“Everybody played well. They made it a game and we were able to capitalize at the end and boom, here we are,” Moran said. “I have never seen a team like it before honestly. I have coached some great teams and (assistant coach Jack Moran Jr.) played on some great teams but boy these kids, they are incredible.”

“We knew at the start of the season just by talking to them what their focus was and what they wanted to accomplish this year and my god they have just stayed on track. I am just really happy for them because it just proves to them when you dig deep what you can do. It is a confidence booster it really is.”

The Whalers are currently the #5 seed but that could soon change as they are gaining ground on the fourth seeded Grafton Gators, who are 13-2. If the Whalers were able to pass the Gators by the time the season ends, they would be in line for three home tournament games as the #4 seed leading into the state tournament’s final four, which turns to neutral sites at that stage.

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Grafton will have a slight advantage in terms of strength of schedule to end the season based on the scheduled games remaining on each team’s schedules, but that could change depending on who Nantucket plays in the Jeff Hayes Memorial Tournament on Feb. 20 and Feb. 21.

Nantucket will host Bishop Stang on Saturday, February 11 at 2 p.m. It is senior night for Jack Billings and Curran Hatch. Then on Monday, February 13, Nantucket will face an enormous test when they host the Nauset Warriors, who at 10-4 are the #4 seed in the Div. 3 tournament bracket as of Wednesday.


1) Ryan Davis, Junior, 22 points (12 goals and 10 assists) in 14 games.

2) Canton Jenkinson, Freshman, 17 points (12 goals and 5 assists) in 13 games.

3) Colby O'Keefe, Junior, 15 points (6 goals, 9 assists) in 14 games.

4) Braden Knapp, Junior, 12 points (6 goals, 6 assists) in 14 games.

5) Jeremy Jenkinson, Freshman, 12 points (6 goals, 6 assists) in 12 games.

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