The Nantucket Whalers (0-3) and Sandwich Blue Knights (3-1) played a tough, physical game on Monday, with Sandwich coming out on top 2-1. Nantucket hoped to get their revenge Wednesday night in their home opener, but the Blue Knights stood tall and ultimately won 3-1 behind two goals off the stick of junior Chris Cardillo.
The Whalers got into some trouble early on in the game with penalties, including a five-minute major that gave the Blue Knights five of their seven power play minutes in the opening period.
Nantucket’s penalty kill was up to the task and they nearly escaped the first period tied 0-0, but Blue Knight’s junior Harrison Delman scored with 3:58 to go in the period just after the Blue Knights killed off a Whaler power play, beating Nantucket goalie Griffin Starr with a wrist shot over the blocker. It was 1-0 after one period.
Cardillo gave the Blue Knights a 2-0 lead with a shorthanded goal. He ripped a wrist shot top right to beat Starr and give Sandwich a 2-0 lead with 12:08 to go in the second period.
“We need to work on our shorthanded game a little bit more,” Nantucket assistant coach Ray Patrick said. “It is basically 10 or 11 kids playing against a contender (Sandwich). The penalty kill has been a strong suit lately. It is about execution. We have the guys to do it. We have to sharpen the saw right now. Kids have it but we need to get time on the ice and a little more skill and system specific. We will be fine.”
Junior center Ryan Davis cut the Blue Knights lead to one after burying a loose puck on the goal line following a shot by junior defenseman Braden Knapp. Davis celebrated in front of the Nantucket student section and the Whalers suddenly had life late in the second period.
“We were excited for him,” head coach Jack Moran said of Davis. “He has been waiting for one. We had more shots and a better game shooting.”
The score stood at 2-1 for the remainder of the second period and most of the final period as well. The Whalers and Blue Knights traded chances and matched one another in five-on-five play and special teams until Cardillo swooped in again with about five minutes to go in the game. Cardillo put a deke on Starr and executed a beautiful finish by roofing it over Starr's shoulder to give Sandwich a two-goal cushion and a 3-1 lead that would stand until the final buzzer.
“We played two and a half periods of good hockey,” Moran said. “The coaches and I were just telling them they can’t start hanging their heads midway through the third period because they were. Sandwich gets that goal and things start crumbling a little bit. They can’t give up like that. They are better than that. They competed with the number one team again. They just need to start believing in themselves. We have had three very tough games. We have performed very well.”
Moran felt his team reverted back to bad habits after Cardillo’s second goal and lightened up on the physical play that was working well for them.
“It just would have been better if we could have finished that last half of the third period. Good things are still coming. I have all the faith in the world in this team. I will never not have faith in them. I know they can do it.”
The Whalers will look to earn their first win of the season when they host Barnstable on Saturday, December 31 at 2 p.m. Nantucket was scheduled to play Nauset at home on Friday, but the game was postponed due to weather. A make-up date has not been determined.