Recorder: "Greenfield wins third straight Western Mass. title with 5-1 win over Taconic in Class C final"

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Greenfield Hockey Team 2023

Photo by: Christopher Evans

Hockey: Greenfield wins third straight Western Mass. title with 5-1 win over Taconic in Class C final


Staff Writer

Published: 2/25/2023 4:57:38 PM

WEST SPRINGFIELD — The last two Western Mass. championship games for the Greenfield hockey team came down to the wire. The Green Wave made a wild comeback before pulling out an overtime win against Wahconah in 2020, and last year, needed a goal in the final two minutes to defeat Chicopee.

Greenfield made sure a close finish wasn’t in the cards in its Western Mass. Class C final on Saturday against Taconic.

After defeating Southwick 8-0 in the semis, the top-seeded Green Wave picked up right where they left off Saturday, firing on all cylinders early against the Thunder. Greenfield set the tone in the opening five minutes, outshooting No. 2 Taconic 10-0 while putting two shots in the back of the net to take control of the game.

The Thunder got one back before the first period closed but it was all Green Wave the rest of the way, as the club tacked on three more goals to take home their third consecutive Western Mass. title with a 5-1 victory at the Olympia Ice Center.

“This was a great way to finish it off,” Greenfield coach Adam Bouchard said. “These student-athletes work so hard every day. We do ‘No Puck Monday’s’ for a reason so we can skate for 45 minutes every game and you saw that tonight. We continued to grind and that’s Green Wave hockey.”

For the eight seniors on the Green Wave roster, Saturday’s win means they’ve captured a sectional title each year the postseason was contested (there was no 2020-21 postseason due to COVID-19).

Bouchard credited that group for keeping the success going and building the identity the program has developed.

“We have a great group of senior leaders,” Bouchard said. “They were freshmen when we won that 2019-20 championship. We’re very proud of this group. It’s hard when you only have four years with the student-athletes. You have to continue to regroup and reset and we’ve set it up through the FCHA program to have them ready when they come here. It’s a tribute to how hard the students, the coaches and the hockey community works.”

For senior Matt Lavoine, getting to learn from the state championship-winning group as a freshman helped show him what would be needed to achieve the goals Greenfield sets out for itself.

“Our coaches do a lot to help us,” Lavoine said. “We’ve grown as a team throughout the years and it’s a great senior class. We work hard. When we were freshmen in the ’19-20 season, we learned how to play as a playoff team and we’ve progressed from there.”

It was an all out assault on the Taconic net to open the game, capped off with Shawn Beckwith tapping in a rebound off a shot from Jake Jurek just 2:13 into the game to give the Green Wave the opening 1-0 lead.

Two minutes later Greenfield (16-5) tacked on its second goal of the game, with Hunter Smith finding Beckwith for his second tally of the afternoon with 1:18 remaining in the period.

“You can talk about it all day long and practice it all day but for the student-athletes to execute that in a Western Mass. championship game is exactly how you want to start,” Bouchard said. “Take nothing away from Taconic. They played a hard game and their goalie stood on his head. We’re proud of getting that 2-0 lead.”

It looked like the Green Wave would run away with it from there, but the Thunder answered before the period ended to get within striking distance. Taconic put its first shot on goal with four minutes to go in the period, sending in a puck from outside the zone that Greenfield goalie Josh Bordeaux saved easily.

Rylan Paddleford won the faceoff, sent the puck back to Brayden Bishop who blasted a shot from the blue line that was tipped in by Jackon Molleur, cutting the lead to 2-1 with 3:50 to go in the frame. That’s how the first period ended, with the Green Wave holding a 14-3 shot advantage.

While the Green Wave had the early edge, Bouchard made sure his team knew they would have to play their best hockey going forward to take home the title.

“The message was that this was a 10-5 hockey team we were playing,” Bouchard said. “They’re in the finals for a reason. This was a hockey game and we needed to do things the Green Wave way and good things were going to happen. You saw that in the last 30 minutes where we played our style of hockey and it worked out.”

Jayson Smith drew back-to-back penalties to open the second period, with Greenfield capitalizing on the second man-advantage. Jurek fired a shot on goal that was saved by Taconic goalie Antonio Scalise, but the puck bounced out to Jack Laurie on the right dot, who lasered the shot in for his first career varsity goal that put the Green Wave up 3-1 with 10:20 to go in the period.

Greenfield tallied a fourth goal with 8:44 to go in the frame. Lavoine sent a pass across the crease to Brodie Gagne, but Gagne’s shot was stopped by Scalise. Jamison Baleno was right there to collect the rebound and tap it home to extend the Green Wave lead.

The Green Wave added their fifth goal with 6:49 to play, as Lavoine rocketed in a shot off a dish from Baleno to put the game away.

“The first five minutes we played our type of hockey,” Lavoine said. “Then we let off the pace and played to them. We wanted to pick it up, play our hockey and go out there and out-skate them.”

Next up for Greenfield is the state tournament, where it enters as the No. 24 seed in the MIAA Div. 4 field. The Green Wave will travel to take on No. 8 Stoneham in the Round of 32 on Wednesday, with puck drop set for 6 p.m. at Stoneham Arena.