A last minute goal was too little too late for the Martha’s Vineyard Regional High School boys hockey team in a tight 3-1 loss to non-league powerhouse Bishop Stang on Saturday at the MV Ice Arena.

The matchup between the Vineyarders (6-3-2) and the Spartans (10-1-1) was aggressive from the get-go with several hard checks into the glass to roars from the rowdy student section. The Vineyarders asserted pressure early with a flurry of shots at the goal and a high-energy defense that surrounded and stifled any Spartan counterattack. Still, nothing could sneak past the Spartan goalie and the period ended scoreless.

“I thought we outplayed them pretty well in the first period, just couldn’t get the puck in the net,” said coach Matt Mincone after the game.

Two key Vineyard penalties in the second period, one for roughing, the other from a trip, proved costly when the Spartans scored two power play goals while the Vineyarders were a man down.

The Vineyarders had numerous chances to claw their way back after Bishop Stang committed four penalties in the third period, but failed to capitalize during eight minutes of penalty play. A goal in the last 16 seconds of the game from Colby Zarba, assisted by Jake Scott, prevented the shutout.

“It was a chess match and we exposed ourselves too many times,” said Mr. Mincone. “I thought we played well. Take those penalties away and it’s different.”

Mr. Mincone added that the Vineyarders need to win three of their last nine games to qualify for the MIAA state tournament next month.

“That’s our number one goal,” he said.

The Vineyarders go on the road for two games — against Dennis-Yarmouth and rival Nantucket — and then return home on Wednesday, Jan. 30 against Monomoy starting at 4:30 p.m.