The Whalers hockey team has seen a relatively challenging season thus far. Kicking off the season playing a few of the tougher teams in the league, the varsity hockey team holds a record of 3-5-1, winning three out of their nine games played. Some of their tougher competition so far has been North Quincy, where the team lost 6-2 in an intense away game. Martha’s Vineyard has also shown tough competition, and upon playing the Vineyard away, the Whalers took an unfortunate loss of 3-0.
As the season continues to progress, the hockey team has been seen gaining momentum. Part of this can be attributed to varsity head coach Scott Corbett’s philosophy on improvement: “They can improve by never being satisfied. Strive to be better every day.” With this idea at heart, the team recently beat Saint John Paul with an impressive score of 7-1, with goals coming from five different players. This game marks team growth from the beginning of the season, as the Whalers originally lost to Saint John Paul on their third game played. This match ended 2-1, which goes shows just how far the team has come with just a month or two of practicing.
On the topic of team growth, Coach Corbett feels that “Our team has grown in confidence. Confidence in each other, each player individually, in the system we run. Confidence is everything.”
Confidence is always a key aspect in success, for any sport, and it especially holds true for this team of upcoming players. For the 2018-19 season, the team is primarily composed of juniors and sophomores, and a few freshmen, with six seniors playing their final season. Ultimately, the team has plans to advance as far as they can in the postseason, which is quickly approaching. First, the Whalers need to focus on qualifying. Coach Corbett says, “Our goals for the postseason are to qualify. We’ll go from there.”
Speaking of postseason goals, senior captain Austin Starr says, “Our goal is to win in the playoffs, and the way to get there is by winning.” This boils down to the team continuing to outplay their opponents, making sure they receive the highest ranking they can heading into tournament play.
This year has also introduced a new aspect of high school hockey here on island, with the employment of a JV team. The hockey program has not had a JV team in recent years, but with high demand from players and interest in the sport, hockey had to expand. Chris Cothran is the JV head coach, and so far the team has a record of 1-2, winning a game and losing two. They have only been presented with the opportunity to play three games, as only some of the bigger schools in the league have JV as well, such as Sandwich and Saint John Paul. Coach Cothran believes that having a JV team in any sport helps to develop players. He mentioned that last year, since there was not a JV team, people who had wanted to play ended up getting cut from varsity. This essentially took away a year of their training.
Cothran added, “Anybody who wants to play a sport should have a spot; there should be a place for everybody.” Having a JV team definitely opens up opportunities for many players. Coach Cothran has been very pleased with his JV squad. “In terms of talent on ice, there are kids who have improved immensely in individual talent.” he said. As a coach, this is all one wants to see from his players, as well has them having fun.
To ensure hockey maintains a fun aspect for those involved, Cothran has made sure the team puts focus into team bonding. There have been tons of team dinners, and as Cothran is also a teacher in school, he has noticed players spending more time with one another, which also benefits team chemistry. Speaking with Coach Cothran about the future of the JV program, he appears to have much in mind. “This is the first year of a JV hockey team, and originally, officials were not 100% sure it would go through, which meant a schedule was put together on the fly. Next year we hope to advance to a 16/17 game schedule as opposed to a potential 10 game season this year. Overall, we just want to develop. We see JV as an extension of varsity. Between myself and Coach Corbett, together we hope we can make Nantucket a formidable D-3 hockey team to post a challenge to the league in years to come.”
Evidently, there is much to be said about the addition of a JV hockey squad. Continuing to grow and build this aspect of the program will undoubtedly bring much benefit to Nantucket hockey in the future. Coach Corbett fully agrees with this statement, as he replies: “The JV program was much needed. It’s the feeder team. The more players we have playing, the stronger the program will be.” All in all, the Nantucket Whalers hockey team is an expanding program, full of players who truly love the game and the sport of hockey. Thinking about the team that head coach Corbett has spent hours training, both physically and mentally, working towards a common goal, he comments: “Our team sticks together well. It’s a brotherhood and they believe in it.” Ultimately, this is the factor that keeps our Whalers hockey team filling the rink and continuing to bring success to our island.
By Waverly Brannigan