Whalers win physical battle with Lions

(February 2, 2023)

The boys’ hockey team picked up their fourth consecutive win on Wednesday with a 6-2 win over St. John Paul II in a physical game that saw both teams each receive 10 penalties.

“My concern was that I want to try to keep everyone in the game, focus on scoring goals, let go of everything else that we’ve done so well. We were overwhelmed by emotion, but they still went out and still did their thing,” said coach Jack Moran of the victories over the Lions.

“They worked the puck really well tonight. There were some great passes in the neutral zone, they got out of the zone fantastically, they were very effective. They fell into the net like crazy. The biggest problem was that they kept hitting the goalkeeper with shots, they didn’t hit the open spots.”

Nantucket (6-4) scored two shorthanded goals, one each from Jack Billings and Jeremy Jenkinson.

The Whalers started the third period with a four-minute penalty, including over a minute They were on the wrong end of a 5v3 situation. They had just annihilated the first penalty and put the teams 5-on-4 when Jenkinson stole a pass on the offensive end, went into the net and slotted a shot between the Lions goalie’s legs.

“We really struggled to find some combinations as the guys got penalized and put in the box,” said Moran. “We had to come up with new sets of players to put together. We robbed the forwards to throw on the D, then we need a D to throw on the forwards. It was a mix match of everything but I think that’s a testament to the team because they’re able to play anywhere we need them to.”

Braden Knapp opened the scoring in the first half by using a Billings screen to put the Lions goalie just under the bar with a shot. St. John Paul tied the game with about four minutes remaining during the period when the puck was loose in the crease for an extended period and the Lions pushed it over the goal line, but Nantucket responded with two quick goals.

Colby O’Keefe put the Whalers back ahead with a hard angle shot from the goal line which the junior tucked in the top right inside corner Corner. Then, on the power play, Jenkinson found his brother, freshman Canton Jenkinson, wide open in front of the net to go 3-1 into the first break.

The Lions scored again late in the third period less than 15 seconds after a power play with a deflection, and then Canton Jenkinson completed the goal in the final minute of the game and earned the player of the game jacket with his performance of two goals and two assists.

Nantucket topped the stats list in last Wednesday’s 11-3 win over Monomoy/Mashpee when seven Whalers scored at least three points in the overwhelming win.

O’Keefe led the team by five points as the junior scored the first hat-trick of the season for Nantucket when he defeated the Monarch goalie just before time ran out in the second half for his third goal of the game. He was soon joined by Canton Jenkinson, who scored twice in the third half to complete his own hat-trick.

But the biggest reaction from the Whalers bench came on their 11th and final goal with just six minutes to go when Canton Jenkinson stormed up the ice and passed the puck to newcomer Baer O’Banion, who ripped a wrist shot into the top left corner of the net for his first collegiate career goal, earning him the game jacket player.

“You know what was the best part of the whole game was bringing these young kids in, seeing them play, seeing the look on their face. When Baer scored, everyone went crazy when he scored his first goal, that’s really what it’s about. We wanted to get these guys today to give them a first taste of it and see how it’s going to be,” Moran said.

Nantucket opened the scoring less than five minutes into the game when Billings found Jeremy Jenkinson in front of the net for his fifth goal of the season. O’Keefe covered a wrist shot then smashed a great pass from Jeremy Jenkinson into an open net to send the Whalers 3-0 into the first break.

Nantucket added five more goals in the second period, including two shorthanded goals by Ryan Davis in the same penalty shootout. The junior added an assist later in the phase when he won a faceoff and the puck found its way Mike Culkins in the slot, who scored his second goal of the season along with two assists that night.

Billings and Soren Edwardes each completed three assists in a night where the Whalers dominated possession time thanks to their strong passing game.

“The passing was great, the passing was phenomenal. When we got out of our zone, the breakout passes were tape-to-tape, nice and crisp,” Moran said.

Nantucket was aiming for a fifth straight win in a neutral site contest against Old Rochester in Falmouth on Wednesday. too late for this issue of Sports. The Whalers will travel this weekend against Martha’s Vineyard on Saturday and Monomoy on Sunday before returning home to host Dennis-Yarmouth on Wednesday.

The matchups against the Vineyarders and the Dolphins will have a big impact on the playoff picture. In the updated MIAA Div. 4 power rankings ranked Nantucket sixth, just ahead of Dennis-Yarmouth and just behind Martha’s Vineyard.

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