Stingy Defense And Timely Scoring Leads Nantucket To 3-1 Win Over Framingham

David Creed •

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Braden Knapp now leads Nantucket's boys hockey team in assists (6) and points (9) after his three-point afternoon against Framingham on Saturday. Photo by Chris Tran

The Whaler boys hockey team wants some respect put on their name, and they continue to play like a group determined to prove that this Div. 4 program can play with anybody this season.

Nantucket welcomed the Framingham Flyers to town on Saturday, who were fresh off of solid performances against two of the top teams in the state – losing to Marshfield 6-3 and Franklin 3-2 over the holiday break.

The Whalers hadn’t laced up their skates since Dec. 20 when they went on the road and beat the Barnstable Red Hawks 5-4 but showed very little signs of rust in their 3-1 victory over Framingham – holding the Flyers to just 13 shots all game.

"I've always felt, and I know I've said this to you, when they're playing the way they can play, they can beat anybody,” Whaler head coach Jack Moran said after the game. “I really, truly feel that. They showed it today. Framingham is a good team.”

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Photo by Chris Tran
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Photo by Chris Tran

Nantucket outshot the Flyers 13-6 in the opening period but had just one goal to show for their work. Nantucket senior center Ryan Davis scored the game’s first goal with 4:01 to go in the first period – beating Framingham’s senior goalie Robert Geltman, who was fresh off a 57 save performance against Franklin earlier this week, off a nice backhand feed from senior defenseman Hunter Strojny. The Whalers took that one goal lead into the first intermission.

While they only led 1-0, Moran said he was ecstatic with how his team came out and executed in the game's first 15 minutes.

“Every single one of them worked hard every single minute,” Moran said. “Like I said to them in the locker room, this is a true testament to their dedication. They work hard every single day. The way they got on that ice, kept their heads in it, played physical, and got the job done that they had to get done - and they absolutely crushed it.”

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Photo by Chris Tran

The second period featured much less offense, but Framingham held a 5-3 shot advantage and saw an uptick in offensive zone time. The Flyers struggled to end scoring chances with shots on goal but when they did, Whaler senior captain Griffin Starr was up to the task in net with several key positional saves.

Midway through the period with about 8:34 to go, senior winger Braden Knapp grabbed hold of a loose puck in front of Geltman and softly backhanded it towards the net. The puck found its way by and Knapp needed several seconds to notice it had gone in. His teammates embraced him, an indication to him that the puck had gone in, and the Whalers suddenly had some breathing room and a 2-0 lead.

Framingham didn’t score until the third period when they took advantage of a rare soft spot given up by the Whaler’s defense.

Senior defenseman John Hudson slowly carried the puck behind Starr’s net and found junior winger Jack Kurzman in the slot, who finished the chance with a hard one-timer that Starr never had a chance of stopping. It gave his team life and cut Nantucket’s lead to 2-1 just 31 seconds into the final period.

"That one goal they got, we left that one side open on him. They weren't covering the slot... it happens,” Moran said. “They recognized that, and they followed through and covered that the rest of the game. You learn from mistakes. It didn't cost us, thank goodness.”

In an effort to tie the game, Framingham senior captain Noah Albright came streaking down the right wing before feeding Kurzman with a perfect pass that set up a wide-open chance in front of Starr, but Kurzman's shot sailed off target and up off the glass with 8:57 to go in the game.

Less than a minute later following some solid forechecking work by the Davis line and Davis in particular, Knapp found Davis open to Geltman’s left with an open look. Davis patiently held the puck before ripping a shot that beat Geltman glove side to extend Nantucket’s lead back to two goals with 8:10 remaining.

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Ryan Davis fired up after his second goal of the game against Framingham. Photo by Chris Tran
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The defense took care of the rest from there – allowing very few chances for Framingham’s offense the rest of the way to preserve the 3-1 lead.

“The D played out of their minds today,” Moran said. “Soren (Edwardes) throwing his body around like there is no tomorrow. Even Nico (Tedeschi) was getting dirty down there in the corner. Everybody was doing their job and it’s fantastic. To get a win over a team like Framingham, that says something about these guys. It really does.”

Saturday's win marks Nantucket’s second straight win against a Div. 1 program.

Knapp took control of the team lead in assists (6) and points (9) following his three-point afternoon.

Davis is now the team-leader in goals with five.

Through Nantucket’s first five games, five players are scoring at a point per game pace: Knapp (nine points), Davis (eight points), senior center Colby O’Keefe (eight points), Sophomore winger Jeremy Jenkinson (six points) and sophomore forward Canton Jenkinson (six points).

Griffin Starr remains steady in net and now has 88 saves on 101 shots faced (.871 save percentage), boasts a 2.60 goals against average, and owns a 4-1 record through this difficult five game stretch to begin the season.

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Senior captain Griffin Starr. Photo by Chris Tran
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Senior center Colby O'Keefe. Photo by Chris Tran

Albright, who has become a star for the Flyers and accumulated 66 career points for Framingham’s varsity hockey team, has ties to the island. His father is Mark Albright, who was a member of the Nantucket High School Class of 1989. Albright is now the VP of management, operations, and assessment at Framingham High School and helped make this game happen.

While speaking to Albright during the game, he said the family makes the trip to the island a few times per year and that Noah has been skating at Nantucket Ice since he was little – when they would visit over the winter break. He said he watches all of Nantucket’s hockey games.

“I’m always pulling for Nantucket, just not when they’re playing my boy,” he said.

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Noah Albright carrying the puck through the offensive zone during Saturday's game. Photo by Chris Tran

Here is how Nantucket’s schedule through five games has gone:

Loss to Norwell 3-2

Win over Nauset 6-4

Win over Martha’s Vineyard 4-1

Win over Barnstable 5-4

Win over Framingham 3-1

“Fantastic,” Moran said when asked about how he felt about his team through their first five games. “We started off with a tough schedule (last year – began season 0-3) and worked our way through that. This year we saw the first five games and knew they were going to be a challenge for us. But coming out 4-1, I couldn't want anything better. What a great start for these kids. It just goes to show them that they can do it."

The Whalers next game will be on Wednesday, January 3 on the road against the Dennis-Yarmouth Dolphins (1-4) at 4 p.m.

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Photo by Chris Tran
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