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Green Wave back in postseason

  • Belchertown’s goaltender, Ethan Rajpold, center, has trouble holding onto the puck during a game against Greenfield Thursday at the Mullins Center practice rink in Amherst. FOR THE RECORDER/CAROLINE O’CONNOR

  • Belchertown’s goaltender, Ethan Rajpold, center, has trouble holding onto the puck during a game against Greenfield Thursday at the Mullins Center practice rink in Amherst. FOR THE RECORDER/CAROLINE O’CONNOR

  • Greenfield’s forward, Evan Simmons, turns for the puck against Belchertown Thursday at the Mullins Center practice rink in Amherst. FOR THE RECORDER/CAROLINE O’CONNOR

  • Greenfield’s Evan Simmons, right, embraces teammates Doug Hanieski (19) and Alec Jordan (24) after scoring a point against Belchertown Thursday at the Mullins Center practice rink in Amherst. FOR THE RECORDER/CAROLINE O’CONNOR

  • Above, Greenfield sniper Evan Simmons, right, embraces teammates, Doug Hanieski (19) and Alec Jordan (24), after scoring a goal against Belchertown Thursday at the Mullins Center practice rink in Amherst. Below, Simmons scopes out the action in front of him during a game in which he scored three points, falling one short of the career 100-point mark. PHOTOS FOR THE RECORDER/CAROLINE O’CONNOR

  • Greenfield’s Evan Simmons, right, embraces teammate, Doug Hanieski, after scoring a point against Belchertown Thursday at the Mullins Center practice rink in Amherst. FOR THE RECORDER/CAROLINE O’CONNOR

  • Greenfield’s forward, Evan Simmons, races after the puck against Belchertown’s Matt Pacheco Thursday at the Mullins Center practice rink in Amherst. FOR THE RECORDER/CAROLINE O’CONNOR

  • Greenfield’s forward, Evan Simmons scopes out the action against Belchertown Thursday at the Mullins Center practice rink in Amherst. FOR THE RECORDER/CAROLINE O’CONNOR

  • Greenfield’s Evan Simmons, gets ready for a face off during a game against Belchertown Thursday at the Mullins practice rink in Amherst. Simmons scored three points, leaving him one shy of 100 in his Green Wave career. FOR THE RECORDER/CAROLINE O’CONNOR



Recorder Staff
Thursday, February 01, 2018

AMHERST — For the first time in four years, Greenfield High School is tournament-bound.

In its first year after taking on players from the now-disbanded Turners Falls High School program, the Green Wave picked up lucky win No. 10 Thursday afternoon.

Senior forward Evan Simmons scored two goals and assisted on another, pulling him within one point of the 100-career-point milestone, and visiting Greenfield kept Belchertown High School under wraps to capture a 4-1 victory in a Wright Division hockey game at the Mullins Center Practice Rink on the campus of UMass.

“I’m wicked excited,” said Simmons of his squad reaching the postseason for the first time since 2014. “Just missing (the tournament) by one point last year, that was heartbreaking. So I’m wicked excited to go my senior year.”

Greenfield, which went just 1-19 in Simmons’ freshman season with the program, improved to 10-4-1 with the victory, 3-0-1 in the Wright Division.

“These kids have come a long way,” Greenfield head coach Adam Bouchard said. “The biggest headache we thought we’d have was everyone gelling together but it’s been a cohesive team since the beginning.”

Riding the offensive skill of Greenfield’s talented top line, the visitors struck first late in the opening period. Bryan Baumann staked his team to a 1-0 lead with just 38 seconds left, as he roofed a shot from the slot over the shoulder of Belchertown goalkeeper Ethan Rajpold.

Not satisfied with a one-goal cushion heading into the first intermission, Greenfield struck again just 33 seconds later. This time it was Simmons, who assisted on the first goal along with Doug Hanieski, that found the back of the net. With just five seconds remaining, Simmons tucked a rebound home and doubled the lead to 2-0. Hanieski and Baumann earned assists on the play.

“We really mix well,” offered Simmons of Greenfield’s top line, which is the unquestioned leader in the clubhouse for best hair in the Recorder area. “There’s a lot of talent here. We’re clicking as a line.”

Hanieski made sure all three members of the hair-brigade tallied in the win. The junior from Frontier Regional School redirected a shot from Bryce Jordan with 9:48 left in the second period, giving the Wave a 3-0 advantage.

That lead held until the third period, when Belchertown (3-4-4, 2-3-0) clawed back to make things a bit more interesting. Greenfield goaltender Riley Drew (12 saves) made three consecutive point-blank saves in a penalty-kill situation, but the Orioles struck for their lone tally when Matt Pacheco backhanded a shot that found daylight and pulled the hosts within 3-1 with 6:36 to play.

“Belchertown’s a good team and they gave a great effort,” Bouchard lauded. “That goal to make it 3-1, that forced us to really tighten up.”

The momentum was short-lived however, as Simmons notched his second goal of the night (and third point overall) with 5:08 left when he pounced on a failed clearance and made no doubt about it with a blast from close range for a 4-1 lead that would prove to be the final.

Greenfield held a decisive 26-13 edge in shots on goal. The low shot total was due in large part to a stout defensive unit that locked things down inside the blue line. The likes of Jacob Bryant, Mike McGoldrick, Alec Jordan, Bryce Jordan, Cam Barnes and Cam Rice all made key plays in front of Drew.

Simmons needs one point Saturday to join the 100-point club. The Green Wave have a huge test Saturday, when Wright Division leader Easthampton High School (7-2-4, 4-0-1) comes to town for a 5:30 p.m. game at Collins-Moylan Arena. The two teams skated to a 3-3 tie when they met Jan. 3 in Easthampton.

“We’re looking forward to that challenge,” Bouchard said of the Eagles. “They’re a really good team and a tough test so we’re going to have to be ready when they come to our rink.”

The game holds special significance for Simmons, who lives in Easthampton. The Smith Academy senior will certainly recognize some familiar faces on the other end of the rink.

“It’s my hometown team so it would be amazing to get (the 100th point) against them,” Simmons said of Easthampton.