Greenfield, Pacers meet again
If their first two games of the season are any indication, spectators will remain in their seats right up until the final horn sounds when Greenfield High School and Chicopee High School take to the Olympia Arena ice tonight at 8 in West Springfield for the WMass Division IIIA semifinals.
The teams played a pair of tight games during the regular season as part of the Fay-Wright Division schedule, with the Green Wave (17-1-2) winning both by one goal. The first meeting came in the season opener for both teams Dec. 13 in Greenfield, when the Green Wave earned a 4-3 victory, while the second meeting came on Jan. 11 at Fitzpatrick Rink in Holyoke and Greenfield won a shootout, 8-7. That game came just one day after Greenfield suffered its only loss of the year, to Chicopee Comprehensive High School, and Green Wave coach Mike Duclos called it a strange game.
“I can remember going up 4-1,” Duclos said. “The kids got cocky and before you knew it, we were down 6-4. We recovered and squeezed one out, 8-7. The first time we played them was opening day and it pretty much could have gone either way. We won 4-3, but we were still trying to figure out our identity.”
The fifth-seeded Pacers (13-7-1) enter the game off a 6-5 double-overtime victory over fourth-seeded South Hadley High School in the quarterfinals, as Nick Jablonski scored the game-winning goal. Jablonski is third in goals scored for Chicopee this season with 19, while adding 27 assists for 46 points. Ryan Kazeroid leads the Pacers in scoring with 42 assists to go along with 14 goals. Devan Longtin has scored a team-high 26 goals and also has 29 assists, while Christian Salamon has 24 goals and 21 helpers.
Chicopee finished tied for second in the Fay-Wright this season. The Pacers scored the most goals (81) in the Fay-Wright this season, 10 more than Greenfield, which was the second-highest scoring team in the league. The Pacers’ Achilles heel was their defense, which allowed 68 goals in 14 Fay-Wright games, an average of nearly five goals per game. That put Chicopee tied for the second worst goals-against. Goalie Jonathan Santos has a save percentage of .821.
Top-seeded Greenfield, meanwhile, allowed the fewest goals in the league, giving up just 38 in 14 games. Duclos said it’s defense that has been key to his team’s success this season, and if the Green Wave is going to advance to Thursday night’s WMass championship game, it is going to be behind the defense.
“With everybody healthy and everybody back, it really strengthens us,” Duclos explained. “Our centers are the crucial part of our defense. They are like the third defensemen.”
Greenfield will also use Zach Langlois all over the ice. While listed as a defenseman, Langlois will shift to forward at times and then move back to defense.
“It really gives us different looks on the ice,” Duclos said.
When all else fails, Greenfield can fall back on goalie Barrett Rogaleski, who has played every minute in the Green Wave goal this season. Rogaleski has allowed two goals or less in 13 of Greenfield’s 20 games this winter, and has not allowed more than three goals in a game since the 8-7 win over Chicopee. He has stopped 484 shots this season and has over a .900 save percentage.