The Duxbury girls’ hockey team celebrated a 14-1-1 season with the Patriot Cup at Gallo Arena. The Billerica/Chelmsford/Lowell co-op capped its bounce-back season with a Merrimack Valley Conference crown at Tsongas Center in Lowell. Woburn edged previously-unbeaten Arlington for the Middlesex League title. St. Mary’s denied unbeaten Matignon for Catholic Central honors.
In a pandemic-shortened season in which there were no MIAA-sponsored tournaments, the conference and league tourneys have been a hit. Coaches have praised the new formats for giving student-athletes extra opportunities to compete.
Now, it appears that the Cape & Islands League — after a COVID-19 scare Tuesday morning — will be able to start its five-team tournament Thursday with a pair of games.
Martha’s Vineyard athletic director Mark McCarthy confirmed a positive test from a girls’ hockey player Tuesday morning was the result of a barcode error at the lab processing the batch of results.
MV regularly tests its students and McCarthy received the news of the error Tuesday night. On Wednesday morning, the C&I’s athletic directors approved the tournament’s restart. No Martha’s Vineyard players have tested positive, but Sandwich withdrew from the tournament Wednesday afternoon because of a positive test on the team, according to AD Neil Murphy. Nantucket also withdrew because the school has its scheduled February vacation this week and does not have enough skaters available to play.
“Through this whole winter, and I think any athletic director in the state will say this, at any given time this could be happening to anybody,” McCarthy said. “For us to have gotten this far and been able to play as many games as we’ve been able to play, we’re happy we’ve gotten to this point.”
On Thursday, fifth-seeded Dennis-Yarmouth takes on fourth-seeded Nauset (Cape Cod Furies) in a quarterfinal at Charles Moore Arena in Orleans (7:45 p.m.). Martha’s Vineyard, the seventh seed, travels to Hyannis to play No. 3 Barnstable at 3:30 in a semifinal. The D-Y/Cape Cod winner plays at top-seeded Falmouth in the other semifinal Saturday. The final is Sunday.
Billerica/Chelmsford/Lowell won the MVC with a 3-2 win over Andover on Sunday.
“Our Cup, we didn’t even know we were going to have that until two-thirds [of the way] into the season,” said coach Ray Monroe, who guided his squad to a 10-1 finish. “If we weren’t going to have the tournament, we knew our goal was wanting to win this league because we knew we had the team.”
B/C went 7-8-5 last season and missed qualifying for the Division 1 state tournament by one point. This season’s championship also allowed the program to have its first 10-win season since 2016-17, when it went 14-4-3.
“We have a pretty young team for the most part and most of my kids haven’t had a playoff experience, so for our kids to get that playoff experience was a good thing to have,” Monroe said.
Monroe also appreciated that the MVC Cup final had an all-woman officiating crew, something he had never seen at the high school level.
The only aspect of the tournament Monroe didn’t like is how a game was decided by a shootout if it was still tied after overtime. The Indians never encountered that situation, but he would’ve liked there to be a 3-on-3 double overtime.
St. Mary’s coach Frank Pagliuca praised the CCL Cup’s playoff-like atmosphere, even without fans in attendance. The Spartans lost 2-1 to Woburn in last season’s Division 1 quarterfinals and triumphed 3-2 over previously unbeaten Matignon in the CCL Cup championship, their 20th game of the season. St. Mary’s (15-2-3) got past Austin Prep, 1-0, in the semifinals after failing to beat them in the teams’ three regular-season meetings, going 0-1-2 against the Cougars.
When AP came back from down 4-2 to score two third-period goals and end in a 4-4, tie, that’s when St. Mary’s knew it had to fine-tune its gameplan. The Spartans did and went 8-0-1 in their last nine games, celebrating a championship powered by a hat trick from Jenna Chaplain in the final.
Will these end-of-season league tournaments become the norm, a silver lining produced by the pandemic? Sectionals will be eliminated in 2021-22 with the MIAA introducing a statewide tournament format for all sports, but Pagliuca hopes these tournaments endure.
“I think it was great,” he said. “The games that we played were like state tournament games and they were like that environment. I do think you’re going to have some form of a CCL Cup or a Patriot Cup before the [state] tournament.”
And the smiles from the victory celebrations outweigh any downside.
“Just the reactions on the kids’ faces when they get to hold up some kind of hardware … it’s the whole reason why you coach,” Monroe said.
▪ At 13-0-1, and as Wednesday afternoon still playing, the Falmouth girls have an opportunity to join Natick and Westwood as the lone unbeatens in Eastern Mass. Coach Brian Ferreira is quick to point out the semantics of the situation — “it’s not like we’re standing in the MIAA Tournament at the end,” he said — but there’s still plenty to celebrate.
Falmouth has just one senior, defenseman Abby Roman, who’s been skating for the program since she was in eighth grade. Four skaters amassed at least 17 points, but the standout has been sophomore forward Ryann McDonald, whose 22 goals and 18 assists are among the top figures in the state.
Adding to the uniqueness of the season — Ferreira’s daughter, Gabrielle, is a freshman defenseman for Falmouth. This is the first season he’s experienced the parent-child coaching connection from the other side — Brian starred at Falmouth High for his father, Buddy, in the 1980s.
“It’s been a little difficult, I knew it was going to be,” Ferreira admitted. “She doesn’t want to hear about it when we get home, so I let it go. She’s like everyone else; when we leave the rink, it’s over.”
▪ The season ended extra early for Notre Dame (Hingham), with the Cougars having played their last game on Feb. 10. NDA, which finished 6-1-2, played as a guest in the Patriot League but was ineligible for the Patriot Cup, along with fellow temporary members Norwell and East/West Bridgewater. Coach John Findley took no issue with the situation, though, thanking Duxbury AD Thom Holdgate for helping to provide the Cougars a place to play any games at all.
Had there been a full season, Findley has no doubt his team would have been ready to make a run in the Division 2 tournament.
“I know this group would’ve made a long run in the playoffs,” he said. “I told the president of the school and her husband they probably would’ve been sitting at the [TD] Garden.”
Findley praised the leadership of senior co-captain Christine Landry (11 goals, five assists), calling her “the best leader and best example these girls could have.”
Correspondent Jake Levin contributed to this report.