Freeman's Two Goals Lift Whalers To Round One Victory Over SJP

David Creed •

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Sophomore forward Andrew Lavin's teammates gather around him after he scored his first career varsity goal Friday evening against St. John Paul II. Photo by Chris Tran

The #2 seeded Whaler boys hockey team has moved onto the Round of 16 following a 6-3 victory over the #31 seeded St. John Paul II Lions Friday evening.

"As soon as they got out there they were ready... you could tell. They were fired up, the crowd was fired up. The energy was good. They were good. They just wanted to get out there and get the job done," Nantucket head coach Jack Moran said. "We are proud of them. Couldn't say one bad thing about them. Some simple turnovers but other than that, fantastic."

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Senior defenseman Michael Culkins (A) with senior goalie Griffin Starr (C). Photo by Chris Tran

Nantucket was led by sophomore forward Ben Freeman, who scored two goals in the game filling in for senior winger Braden Knapp - Nantucket's second leading scorer who was unavailable. Moran said Freeman knew he had to step up in a big way and could not have been happier with his performance.

"We told him 'This is a big game for you today. You got to go out there and you got to skate hard today,' and he did," Moran said. "He knew the importance of today. He had to fill some shoes that we needed to have filled today. He did the job very well."

Freeman’s first goal came 3:55 into the game and less than one minute later, it was Whaler freshman winger Nico Tedeschi burying one to make it a 2-0 game.

SJP - a familiar foe that had already played Nantucket twice this season - put up a valiant fight and never went away all game long. They made it 2-1 with just under four minutes remaining in the first period - a score that stood going into the first intermission. The Lions also began the second period with 1:55 of power play time and a golden opportunity to tie the game at two apiece.

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Sophomore forward Canton Jenkinson delivers a heavy hit during Friday's game. Photo by Chris Tran
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Freshman Nico Tedeschi embraced by Canton Jenkinson after Tedeschi's first period goal. Photo by Chris Tran

But Nantucket senior center and assistant captain Ryan Davis had other plans. The Whaler’s leading scorer extended their lead to 3-1 with a shorthanded goal 1:29 into the second and looks to be back to full health following an injury late in the season. Nantucket went into the third period leading 4-1 after sophomore defenseman Soren Edwardes scored with 6:15 to go in the second.

Freeman scored his second goal of the game 51 seconds into the final period to make it 5-1, but SJP answered just 27 seconds later to make it a 5-2 game. A couple minutes later, Whaler sophomore winger Andrew Lavin scored his first career varsity goal to make it 6-2, but SJP kept sticking around and scored 25 seconds after Lavin’s tally to make it 6-3.

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Sophomore defenseman Soren Edwardes. Photo by Chris Tran
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Soren Edwardes celebrating after his goal. Photo by Chris Tran

"It's nice because (Ben Freeman) and Andrew (Lavin) have been able to step up in some situations this year where we really needed somebody to go out there and help in an emergency situation," Moran said. "They are the future of this team and it is nice to be able to call upon them right now and they are ready to go in those situations. And it's not to say that the rest of the team isn't going to be ready, but those two kids right now because of their size, they're great for us to be able to utilize in games like this."

While the Lions held their own as the #31 seed and gave Nantucket a competitive game, the Whalers were able to finish the final 11 minutes and change of regulation with a strong defensive performance and allowed very little offense moving forward.

“It is always nice to be home. It is always nice to win at home,” Moran said. “They needed that really badly but they never lacked that confidence going into this game today. It’s a brand new team in a brand new season. Now time to get ready for our game on Sunday. It will be fun.”

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Senior center Colby O'Keefe. Photo by Chris Tran

The Whalers next game will be at home against the#15 seeded Bourne Canalmen on Sunday, March 3 at 2 p.m. The Canalmen should be a tough test for Nantucket. They finished their regular season 13-6-1. They beat #18 Abington 4-2 in the Round of 32 on Wednesday.

The Whalers and Canalmen also have several common opponents: Sandwich, Old Rochester Regional High School, Dennis-Yarmouth, Monomoy, and Martha's Vineyard. 

Bourne beat Sandwich on February 3rd 5-2. The Whalers lost to Sandwich in both of their matchups 2-0 and 5-1.

Bourne tied Old Rochester 3-3 on January 1st and lost 4-2 on February 7th. The Whalers beat Old Rochester both times 8-2 and 4-1.

Bourne beat Dennis-Yarmouth 6-2 on February 14th. The Whalers beat DY in both of their matchups 4-0 and 6-0.

Bourne beat Monomoy 5-1 on December 9th and 3-2 on December 20th. The Whalers also beat Monomoy both times 6-4 and 5-0.

Bourne lost to Martha's Vineyard 6-3 on February 21st - their final game of the regular season. The Whalers beat the Vineyard both times this season 4-1 and 5-3.

For up to date information on the boys hockey team, as well as the boys basketball team for as long as they remain alive in their respective tournament journeys, follow us on Instagram, Facebook, or X(Twitter).

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Photo by Chris Tran
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Photo by Chris Tran
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Photo by Chris Tran
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