H.S. Hockey: Westfield scores late to defeat Greenfield, 4-3 (PHOTOS)
|Published: 02-07-2024 9:40 PM
GREENFIELD — It could have gotten away from the Greenfield hockey team against Westfield on Wednesday.
The Bombers couldn’t have asked for a better start to the game, popping two goals in during the opening five minutes of action. When the Green Wave responded with a goal in the first period, Westfield fired back with a strike minutes later to take a 3-1 lead after one.
There was no quit in Greenfield, however. The Green Wave lit up the scoreboard twice in the second period to tie the game. It was a back-and-forth third period before Bomber Evan Klepacz knocked in a rebound with 5:49 to go to give Westfield the lead back.
Greenfield was unable to find the game-tying goal, as the Bombers walked away with a 4-3 independent victory at Collins-Moylan Arena.
“That was another great high school hockey game,” Green Wave coach Adam Bouchard said. “The last couple games we’ve really come into our own. We made a couple lineup changes and these student-athletes are really starting to see and believe in what type of team we can be.
“Westfield took a quick lead on us and we’re down 3-1,” he continued. “After that period, we lose 4-3 so we outscored them 2-1 in those final two periods. Unfortunately in this awesome game that’s not how it’s counted. Take nothing away from Coach [Dave] Pelletier and Westfield. They came in and played very well.”
While it’s never easy to lose, Bouchard emphasized how proud he was of the fight his team showed against Westfield (8-10), a team currently ranked in the top 32 of the Div. 2 state tournament field.
After back-to-back shutout losses to Ludlow and Amherst, the Green Wave (10-6-1) have started playing their best hockey down the stretch. A strong showing against a tough Bomber team only furthers the belief that Greenfield is on the right track as the postseason nears.
“Five games ago we were hitting a lull,” Bouchard said. “We didn’t know what we were going to be. Credit to all these student-athletes. Even though we had a loss today, they should be proud of how hard they worked and they should really start believing in the good things we can do the rest of the season.”
Westfield got on the board just 1:34 into the game. Francis Powers won the faceoff in the Green Wave end, sent it back to Paul Lawry and he blistered a shot that made it to the back of the net to give the Bombers the opening lead.
Four minutes later and it was Westfield’s Cody Bard who put the Bombers ahead, 2-0. Bard retrieved the puck behind his own goal, weaved his way up the ice, made a move in the zone and slipped a shot past Greenfield goalie Cooper Smith to add to the lead.
The Green Wave responded with 6:54 to go in the period. Jack Laurie sent a pass up the ice to Brady Booska and the senior drove in and sniped a shot that beat Evan Mastroianni, cutting the lead to 2-1. Brody Gagne was also credited with an assist on the play.
With 5:29 left in the first, the Bombers scored their third goal. Jared Ritter sent the puck up ice to Joe Maffia, who drove it down the left side of the ice. Maffia sent a cross crease pass to Francis Powers, who tipped it home to add to the Westfield lead.
“We knew they liked to play a down-low style of game,” Bouchard said. “They did that and executed it. Two of their goals came from down low. That’s how we knew they’d try to score. They’re really good with it and it’s tough to defend.”
It was all Greenfield in the second period. Just 1:06 into the frame Gagne drove toward the net, drew the Bomber defense to him before slipping the puck back to Jake Jurek. Jurek rifled a shot that whistled into the net, cutting the lead to 3-2.
The Green Wave tied the game on the power play. Jurek sent a shot on net that was deflected, but the puck ricocheted onto the stick of Matt Garvin in the slot. Garvin fired a shot that got past Mastroianni, knotting the game 3-3 with 3:45 to go in the second.
Greenfield will head to the Olympia Ice Center on Saturday to take on West Springfield before closing out the regular season with a monster showdown with Easthampton the following Saturday.
“It’s a great last four games,” Bouchard said. “We go to West Springfield on Saturday and that’s going to be another awesome high school hockey game. We’re going to continue to grow as a team and build toward the playoffs.”