Boys Hockey Wins Thriller Over Bourne, Advances To State Quarterfinal

David Creed •

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The Nantucket boys hockey team advanced to their third consecutive state quarterfinal following a thrilling 3-2 victory over Bourne on Sunday. Photo by Chris Tran

For the third consecutive season, the Nantucket boys hockey team has earned a spot in the MIAA Div. 4 state quarterfinal following a thrilling 3-2 win over a tough Bourne squad that came into the game as the #15 seed.

The Canalmen gave the Whalers everything they could handle and pushed them to the brink of elimination after claiming the lead through two periods. But Nantucket rallied in the third with two unanswered goals to walk out of Nantucket Ice with a character win.

“We have a lot of respect for Bourne,” Whaler head coach Jack Moran said. “We came in knowing that they were going to produce a game. After the first period we said to these guys 'It's a game guys.' It's 0-0 after the first period, nobody scored, and it is like okay we know it's going to be a game so put your seatbelt on and get ready for the ride because it's going to be a good one. Sure enough, it was."

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Senior center Colby O'Keefe. Photo by Chris Tran

Nantucket came out hot to start the game despite having nothing to show for it - playing as good of a 15 minutes of hockey as they’ve pieced together over the past month.

Bourne meanwhile took the Whaler’s push and held on. They also had a pair of power play opportunities in the first, but Nantucket was able to kill them both off.

The Whalers had 1:10 of power play time in the final 1:20 of the period, but the Canalmen’s penalty kill was also up to the task. The game was scoreless after one period of play.

About three minutes into the second period, Nantucket senior defenseman and assistant captain Michael Culkins got the Whalers on the board with a shot from the point to give Nantucket the game’s first lead.

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Senior assistant captain Michael Culkins. Photo by Chris Tran
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Culkins is surrounded by his teammates after scoring his goal early in the second period. Photo by Chris Tran

But Bourne didn’t go away. The Canalmen’s superstar and 100-point player - senior Ty Kelly - tied the game 1-1 on the power play with 7:20 remaining in the second. The goal gave Bourne life and momentum, which they used to extend their lead a couple minutes later with 4:51 to go in the second thanks to senior forward Dominic Bonito’s tally.

Nantucket suddenly trailed 2-1 and entered the second intermission knowing they had 15 minutes to change the tide of the game or else their season would be over.

"We said to them we've been a third period team all season. You know what you got to do,” Moran said. “We're not going to stop this in our house in front of your crowd. This is just the next step to the next game. Go out there and take it one goal at a time and boom, they knocked it out of the park. So good to see them do that. God what a good feeling that is. It is not good for our hearts but boy I'll tell you they were all business.”

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Senior assistant captain Ryan Davis racing for a puck. Photo by Chris Tran

The Whalers needed someone to make a play, and it was no surprise to see sophomore forward Jeremy Jenkinson - who was the Whaler’s best skater on Sunday - answering the call. He tied the game 4:39 into the third.

"That kid is an absolute magician,” Moran said of Jenkinson. “He works the puck so well on the boards. He does so much coming out of the corners. He creates so much. You think he's totally shut down and all of a sudden, he's got the puck and he's moving around with it. It's incredible. He's only a sophomore and he's only going to get better, and he may even get bigger. Imagine what he's going to produce over the next couple of years.”

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Photo by Chris Tran
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Photo by Chris Tran

For the next six minutes, both teams traded some chances on each end and played with a tremendous pace that never let up from the opening puck drop to the final buzzer.

Bourne played a perfect road game dumping pucks deep and playing the body any chance they could get. But Nantucket’s skill and speed ultimately gave them the edge.

With just over four minutes remaining in the game, senior center and assistant captain Ryan Davis did what he has done so much for this team over the past two seasons – come up big in the biggest of moments. Davis was able to bury a loose puck past Bourne’s freshman goalie Jackson Palmbord - who was sensational all game - to give the Whalers that elusive lead.

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Photo by Chris Tran

Up 3-2, the Whalers set their sights on closing out the game. Clearing the puck, dumping it deep, even icing it if need be. Bourne gave them a push and had a couple of high-quality chances once the goalie was pulled with just over a minute to play in the game.

But Whaler captain Griffin Starr stood tall in net and made an extraordinary leg pad save with 10 seconds left in regulation to preserve Nantucket’s lead and extend their season at least one more game.

“I never doubt Griffin Starr. Those words don't exist in my vocabulary, 'Doubt Griffin Starr.' They're just not there,” Moran said. “I know when they're coming down on him and I'm just standing there waiting for the save. There's those rare, and I capitalize rare occasions, where somebody may beat him, but it's rare. I feel very comfortable with him being in net. We all do.”

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Nantucket senior captain Griffin Starr. Photo by Chris Tran

The Whalers' next matchup will be against #10 Stoneham (8-11-1). The last time these two teams faced each other was in the 2022 MIAA Div. 4 state quarterfinal. Stoneham won that game 7-3. This game will also be at a neutral site. Stay tuned for an announcement on when and where it will take place.

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Sophomore forward Canton Jenkinson. Photo by Chris Tran
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