Hockey: Spencer McDonald, Amherst put together complete effort in 4-0 win over Greenfield (PHOTOS)

By THOMAS JOHNSTON

Staff Writer

Published: 01-23-2024 8:43 PM

Modified: 01-24-2024 9:12 AM


AMHERST — The Amherst hockey team played a nearly flawless game against Greenfield on Tuesday night. 

The Hurricanes took a 1-0 lead after one period, scored twice on the power play in the second and tacked on an insurance goal late. 

While its offense was doing its job of putting the puck in the net, the Amherst defense slowed down a tough Greenfield attack, as Hurricanes goalie Spencer McDonald stopped all 43 shots he faced to allow Amherst to come away with a 4-0 win at Orr Rink. 

“That’s our most complete game of the season,” Hurricanes coach Mike Rousseau said. “We had one mistake but put together 44 minutes and 55 seconds of good hockey. That’s a quality team we played. [Greenfield coach Adam Bouchard] does a great job. They have great structure and I’ve never seen a high school power play with the movement they have. The boys stayed with it and I can’t be more proud of them.” 

The win gives the Hurricanes (10-4) their 10th victory of the season, and with it an automatic spot to the state tournament. 

“We’re the first Western Mass. team to punch a ticket to the state tournament,” Rousseau said. “I can’t be any more proud. We did it before Pope [Francis], we did it before Longmeadow, we did it before everybody. Say what you will about Amherst hockey but we’re on the map.” 

It wasn’t for a lack of chances for Greenfield (8-5) on Tuesday. The Green Wave held a 43-22 shot advantage, using their forecheck to keep the puck in the Amherst end of the ice. 

The problem was finding ways to light up the scoreboard, as Tuesday was the second game in a row Greenfield failed to produce a goal, a rarity for a typically potent offense. 

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“We’ve been shut out for the last two games and over the last eight years we’ve only been shut out one time,” Green Wave coach Adam Bouchard said. “The positive is our forecheck is working. We’re getting the opportunities, we’ve just lost the scoring touch. The good thing is there’s a lot of hockey left to be played. We’re not going to go the rest of the season not scoring goals.

“Take nothing away from Coach Rousseau and Amherst,” Bouchard added. “They came in with a game plan and executed it. That’s a very good team we played.”

Amherst got on the board with 7:22 left in the opening period. Skyler Ferro grabbed the puck in the Hurricanes zone, took it out to mid ice and while behind the Greenfield blue line, sent the puck into the Green Wave zone. 

Instead of a normal dump in, Ferro sent the puck directly at Greenfield goalie Cooper Smith. The puck ended up making it to the back of the net, giving Amherst a 1-0 lead. 

It was the power play that propelled the Hurricanes in the second period. The Green Wave went on the kill three times in the frame and Amherst came away with two goals out of it to take a 3-0 lead going into the final 15 minutes of action. 

Cooper Beckwith made it a 2-0 game with 6:55 to go in the second. Ferro cycled the puck to Yuuki Ishida, Ishida dropped a pass over to Beckwith at the point and the senior blasted a shot on goal. The puck took a deflection off a Greenfield defender and made its way to the back of the net, giving the Hurricanes a two-goal cushion. 

Three minutes later and the Green Wave picked up another penalty, giving Amherst the man-up advantage. It once again capitalized on it, as Ferro put a shot on goal that was initially saved by Smith. The rebound kicked out to Nate Ziomek in the slot and the junior smashed it home to add to the Hurricanes lead. 

Amherst closed out the scoring with 1:15 to go in the game, as Ferro tallied his second unassisted goal of the game. Ferro beat the Greenfield defense up the ice and converted in the slot to put the game away. 

Rousseau said he wants to see his team consistently play like it did on Tuesday.

“The key word is consistency,” Rousseau said. “If we can do this Thursday night against East Longmeadow, that’s a 50-50 game. Then we have a couple days off and we take on Taconic. If we can keep this rolling, we have Ludlow and Easthampton who already beat us. If we can consistently move the puck, shooting the puck, staying positive and supporting each other, it wouldn’t shock me if we win out.” 

Rousseau credited his veterans for bringing the Hurricanes together and allowing them to reach the postseason. 

“It all starts with our senior leadership,” Rousseau said. “Cooper Beckwith, Liam Flynn, Ethan Nompleggi, these guys lead by example. They’ve been through the COVID year, they were 1-11 at one point. Now they have C’s on their jerseys and they’ve put a team on the cusp of doing something special.” 

Bouchard said he hopes to see his Greenfield squad find its rhythm and play the type of hockey he thinks they’re capable of. 

“We need to reset and reset expectations on what we need to do on each shift,” Bouchard said. “We still had a lot of guys playing as individuals on shifts. It’s become our Achilles’ heel. The effort was there, we just need to get our mojo back and start playing Green Wave hockey again.”