A shorthanded Whaler boys hockey team went on the road and beat the Old Rochester Regional High School Bulldogs for a second consecutive game by a score of 4-1 on Wednesday to improve their record to 12-1 this season.
The Whalers were without senior defenseman Hunter Strojny for most of Wednesday’s game – forcing head coach Jack Moran to play senior assistant captain Michael Culkins and sophomore defenseman Soren Edwardes shift after shift.
“They've been huge. Our defensive unit as a whole has been huge. Not having Hunter in there does leave a gap but those two are able to fill it because they're just so good at what they do,” Moran said. “They have that physical ability to do it as well. I think even the other team kind of commented to them at one time they're like 'Why are you guys still out here? You guys got to take a break!' And they're like 'no we're fine,' which is kind of funny. They were able to handle it with grace and they did what they needed to do. All the coaches are looking at each other and Ray (Patrick, assistant coach) at one time is like 'We got to get a break for those guys' and we're all looking at him like 'No they're skating faster than everybody else still. Don't worry about it. We're good.”
The Whalers got a pair of goals from senior winger Braden Knapp, who now has 11 this season. He also took over as the team’s points leader with 27 points (11 goals, 16 assists) in 13 games.
Knapp played in his usual spot to the left of senior assistant captain Ryan Davis on the top line, but also played some defense once Strojny was deemed unavailable after the first period.
Senior center Colby O’Keefe scored his 13th goal of the season and freshman winger Nico Tedeschi scored his fourth of the season on Wednesday.
After a sluggish first period where the Whalers led 2-1, Moran said his team picked it up in the final two periods. The Whalers were also hampered in the first by a Davis high-sticking penalty and 10-minute misconduct that left Nantucket without one of their most talented players for a bulk of the game's first 15 minutes.
"The second and third period ended up being better,” Moran said. “We were able to create more scoring opportunities and we actually had a lot of chances but we just couldn't find the back of the net for some reason. But thank God we were able to find it on several occasions and we were able to get that three (goal) spread, which is good. It worked out well.”
Senior captain Griffin Starr was sharp in net, Moran said, after a slew of games where he wasn’t tested very much due to the Whaler’s dominance at both ends of the rink.
"He did a good job. He saw more shots yesterday. There was a lot of action in front of the net because our D kind of broke down and let them come in a little bit closer to him and they were able to create a little bit more of a flurry in front of him,” Moran said. “But he was able to do a lot of good work in there like he normally does. He saw a little bit more action than he did the other day, which I guess is good for him. He was able to sharpen his skills a little bit more.”
Nantucket has a firm grasp on the #2 seed in the Div. 4 state tournament bracket and will welcome Martha’s Vineyard to the island on Saturday, February 3rd at 2 p.m. The Whalers beat Martha’s Vineyard 4-1 on Dec. 16 on the Vineyard.
Per usual, the Vineyarders are a formidable opponent with revenge on their minds and should pose a strong test for Nantucket this weekend. Martha's Vineyard is currently 8-4-2 this season. They are currently the #7 seed in the Div. 4 bracket.
Friday, February 2nd:
The girls hockey team will be on the road taking on Weymouth at 3:30 p.m.
The girls basketball team - searching for their eighth straight win - will be on the road facing Sturgis East at 5 p.m.
Saturday, February 3rd:
The boys basketball team will host Martha's Vineyard at 12:30 p.m.
The boys hockey team will host Martha's Vineyard at 2 p.m.
The girls hockey team will be on the road facing Martha's Vineyard at 1 p.m.
The girls basketball team will be on the road facing Martha's Vineyard at 1:45 p.m.