CARVER - Head coach Rich Valetkevicz categorized his hockey team’s season as a “roller coaster ride,” and for the third time in his five-year tenure, the Vikings qualified for tournament action.
In the first round of the tournament, the Vikings (11-8-1) came up short against the Whitman Hanson Panthers (15-4-1) at Gallo Ice Arena, 8-2. The game itself was a bit of a roller coaster in its own right. Whitman Hanson came out of the gates strong, scoring four consecutive goals in the first period. The Panthers simply looked more physical in the opening period, until the Vikings ramped it up in the second, cutting the four goal deficit in half. With 2:50 left in the second period, it looked like Wareham/Carver had a shot. They capitalized on a power play for their first goal and moments later, sophomore Noah Reardon found the back of the net to tally on another. The Vikings’ fan section was invigorated, they were alive, but that didn’t last for long. That was the closest the Vikings would come.
“Yeah, we got a slow start, but between the first and second period, (we) fired them up in the locker room, got them going. We seemed to come out a lot better in the second. We dominated, I thought, the second period, made it 4-2. We had a five-on-three, which I think hurt us. I think if we scored on the five-on-three, and got (the score to) 4-3 or even 4-4, it would’ve been a different ball game. I think they thought they had it in the bag at 4-0, and they laid back in the second. Then, we didn’t score, and when we didn’t score, just running two lines tired my kids out,” he said.
Whitman Hanson went on to tack on two more quick goals before the second period expired. From there, the Panthers had two more goals in store during the third quarter. They quickly stomped out any potential comeback the Vikings had in mind.
Wire to wire, the Panthers came to play and by the end of the night, Wareham/Carver’s season was over. Sure, it wasn’t quite the ending they had in mind, but they certainly have a reason to be proud of how the season went.
Through the first seven games of the season, the team went 3-3-1 and outscored opponents 32-28 during that stretch. It was an eight-game stretch in the middle of the season that really propelled the Vikings into contention. They went 6-2 between Jan. 12 and Feb. 5, while outscoring their opponents 29-21 and averaged about three and a half goals per game during that month-long stretch. They got more consistent and turned their fate around.
“We did take on a couple of tougher teams this year like Dennis-Yarmouth, Nauset and Scituate, even though we beat Nauset twice, they were tough. They were good games. I think it was a roller coaster ride, no question about it. It was a bit up and down, but I think the last month, the end of January through February, we lost (a few) games by a goal. If you take a few of those away and put them in the win column, I think we would’ve jumped up higher in the bracket and it would have made a difference, but overall, I’m very happy with this season, no question about it,” Valetkevicz said.
The Vikings will graduate three seniors this spring and they all played significant roles throughout their careers - goaltender Alex Demarco, defensemen Bryan Gallagher, and forward Quirino doCanto. Coach Valetkevicz talked about his senior group departing and what it’s going to take to remain competitive going forward.
“(It’ll take) a lot of hard work. A lot of the kids, hopefully they work harder in the offseason. I do have some young kids coming up that have a lot of potential, and if they work hard in the offseason, I think a lot of them will step right into some starting roles. It’s going to be tough, depending on goaltending. Obviously losing Demarco is going to be tough, I do have three other goalies and I think it’ll be a battle for the starting position.”
Junior Tyler Lovendale scored his 100th career point in the later stages of this past season and with Quirino doCanto graduating, he’ll be losing his right hand man. Lovendale’s provided the program with a lot of points and contributions, but this new season will be a unique one without his favorite target probing the wing. Valetkevicz is excited to see him adapt to the new circumstances and he liked how Lovendale battled out of the slump he started the season with.
“He started off slow, no question about it. He had a slow start this year, but he came on real strong. He ended up with 15 goals and 22 assists, like 32 points. I think it’ll be a little bit different from him (next year). Him and Q have been partners next to each other since they were babies. They’ve been side-by-side, and now that’s Q’s gone, it’ll be interesting. I think it’ll be good for him. He’s a hard worker, he’s a great kid, and he goes out and does his job. He’s just one of those kids that, no matter where you need him, he’ll do it. Anything to win a hockey game. A great kid and I’m looking forward to working with him next year.”