Pacers stun Wave in semifinals
WEST SPRINGFIELD — Chicopee High School exploited Greenfield High School’s lack of depth on Monday night, scoring five times in the first period en route to a 7-4 victory in the semifinals of the Western Massachuetts Division IIIA Hockey Tournament at the Olympia.
The fifth-seeded Pacers used three lines on the night, keeping fresh legs on the ice as much as possible, which created problems for top-seeded Greenfield. While Greenfield went 17-1-2 during the regular season, it did so by using a few players in heavy rotation. That worked against many squads that lacked depth, including the first two games against the Pacers (both one-goal wins by Greenfield), but on Monday night, it finally caught up to Greenfield, which was outshot 47-18 on the night and seemed all but gassed late in the game. Greenfield entered the third period only trailing by one goal, but Chicopee outshot Greenfield, 19-4, in the frame to put the game away.
“They stretched us,” Greenfield coach Mike Duclos said. “They stretched us open. They were the first team that finally caught on to our weakness, and that was our numbers. They ran out three lines against us and they kept coming and coming and coming.”
Greenfield opened the third period down 5-4 after a pair of second-period goals pulled Greenfield back into the game. On top of that, Greenfield had nearly two minutes of power play time remaining from a major boarding penalty issued to Chicopee’s Jeff Zebrowski late in the second. The Wave was unable to get any pressure on during the 5-on-4 advantage, and Chicopee actually outshot Greenfield on its own power play.
“That was huge because we’ve been doing so well on our power play the last couple games and we worked hard on it during practice,” said Duclos.
Chicopee gave itself a bit of a cushion shortly after the power play expired for the Green Wave when Tim Doyle slammed home a rebound for the sixth goal for the Pacers. Chicopee continued to pressure Greenfield the rest of the frame and an empty net goal by Devan Longtin with 22 seconds left sealed the Wave’s fate.
“I’m proud of this team,” said Duclos, who coached his final game and is retiring from coaching so he is able to watch his daughter play basketball at the high school. “It was a great season and the kids gave it their all tonight. I’m so proud of them.”
One person who was able to celebrate briefly was senior forward Jourdan York-Welcome, who scored three goals on the night and finished his high school career with 100 points. Goalie Barrett Rogaleski, who had a shaky start for Greenfield, rebounded well in the final two periods, stopping 40 of the 46 shots he faced on the night, including 32 in the final two periods to help Greenfield get back into the game. The slow start proved too much to overcome.
The Green Wave came out sluggish in the first period and Chicopee took advantage, scoring five times to take a 5-2 lead at the end of the period. The wildness started just 1 minute, 31 seconds into the game when Rogaleski was forced to make a sprawling save to his left on Christian Salamon but left the rebound in front. The Green Wave defense did not immediately react and Devan Longtin took advantage, roofing the rebound past a prone Rogaleski for a 1-0 lead.
Greenfield appeared to get some life following the goal but could not put the puck in the net and the Pacers made it 2-0 with 10:19 left on what appeared to be a harmless play as Salamon crossed the blue line and fed Longtin to his right, who snapped a wrist shot from the slot that beat Rogaleski to the blocker side.
Greenfield managed to get one back with 8:55 left in the first when Jake Elwell gloved a puck near center ice and beat a Chicopee defender who stepped up on the play. That sent Elwell and York-Welcome in on a 2-on-1 and Elwell slid a pass across the crease where York-Welcome jammed it home past Chicopee goalie Jon Santos, who finished with 14 saves on the night.
Chicopee appeared unfazed by the goal and continued to apply the offensive pressure and reclaimed the two-goal cushion with 5:34 remaining, this time on a great individual effort by Dan Garvey. The Pacer winger picked up the puck to the left of Rogaleski, beat a defender as he circled behind the net and then managed to beat Rogaleski to the other post, jamming the puck home from behind the goal line. Rogaleski reached back to try and keep the puck out of the net but was unable to grab it before it crossed the line.
The Pacers took a 4-1 lead with 2:20 left in the frame when Nick Jablonski took what appeared to be an innocent backhander from just inside the blue line. The puck hit a Green Wave defender and went right back to Jablonski, who fired home his own rebound.
Greenfield looked like they might get back into the game when York-Welcome struck for his second of the night with 1:39 left in the period, but with 39.1 seconds left, Longtin picked up a puck at the blue line and beat Wave defender Cam Woodward to walk in alone on Rogaleski. Longtin wristed the puck off the crossbar over the blocker of the Wave goalie for the 5-2 lead.
Greenfield got back into the game in the second period, and despite being outshot 15-7 in the frame, outscored Chicopee 2-0 to cut the deficit to one goal (5-4) after two periods. Chicopee came out looking to turn the knife in the wound and peppered the Green Wave goal early on, forcing Rogaleski to make numerous saves. Greenfield seemed to gain composure as its goalie stood tall and on the Wave’s first good chance of the second period, got its third goal of the game as York-Welcome completed his natural hat trick for his 100th career point.
The Green Wave continued to attack and appeared to score its second of the frame with 9:42 left when the Wave stuffed in a rebound of a Tyler Townsley shot. The refs whistle blew before the puck crossed the line and the goal was disallowed.
Greenfield finally got its second of the period and it was a thing of beauty as Langlois crossed the Pacers’ blue line with one defender to beat and used a nifty, inside-out move to beat the defender and walk in untouched on Santos. The goalie had no chance as Langlois fluttered a shot over the goalie’s glove and under the crossbar to make it 5-4.
Rogaleski, meanwhile, stepped up his play in the second and turned aside all 15 shots he faced in the frame. His biggest stop may have been his last, which came when Salamon broke in alone shorthanded with under 30 seconds remaining. Salamon tried to beat the goalie five-hole, but Rogaleski took it away and stuffed the Pacers’ sniper to keep Greenfield down by just one goal entering the third.
But the lack of legs caught up to Greenfield, which was unable to finish off the comeback.
Chicopee advanced to Thursday night’s championship game against second-seeded Wahconah Regional High School.