Class B hockey: Greenfield’s bid for 4-peat halted by Taconic in semifinal round

Greenfield’s Matt Garvin (14) fires a shot against Easthampton in the second period Saturday night at Collins-Moylan Arena in Greenfield.

Greenfield’s Matt Garvin (14) fires a shot against Easthampton in the second period Saturday night at Collins-Moylan Arena in Greenfield. STAFF PHOTO/DAN LITTLE

By JEFF LAJOIE

Staff Writer

Published: 02-21-2024 9:00 PM

WEST SPRINGFIELD — After winning three consecutive Western Massachusetts titles, the Greenfield hockey team has found itself as the target of teams across the region.

Taconic, which lost in the finals of two of those three championships, was finally able to knock the Green Wave off their pedestal Wednesday night.

The third-seeded Thunder rallied from a 2-0 deficit after the first period, scoring three times in the second frame to take the lead. Taconic survived a tenuous final five minutes that included a 5-on-3 Greenfield power play, ultimately icing the game with an empty netter to secure a 4-2 victory in the PVIAC Class B semifinal round at the Olympia Ice Center.

Taconic (7-9-3) will play either Ludlow or Southwick in Saturday’s Class B final, back in West Springfield.

No. 2 Greenfield dropped to 11-8-1 overall, and will now wait to find out its state tournament opponent when brackets are released by the MIAA this weekend.

“We knew coming in that this was going to be a competitive game,” Greenfield coach Adam Bouchard said. “It’s always a competitive game with Taconic. They had a game plan that they did a great job executing, their goalie [Cameron Laferriere] played a phenomenal game. They made the most of their opportunities, we weren’t able to do the same.”

Greenfield, which beat Taconic 5-1 in last year’s title game, trailed 3-2 late in the third period. The Thunder were whistled for back-to-back penalties however, staking the Wave to a 5-on-3 power play with 3:36 remaining.

Greenfield got several outstanding looks on the two-man advantage, but Laferriere (40 saves) made a few huge stops, keeping Taconic ahead. Brayden Bishop ultimately put things out of reach with 30.2 seconds remaining, as he sent a puck almost the entire length of the ice with the Greenfield goal empty. His marker sealed the deal in the 4-2 win.

Article continues after...

Yesterday's Most Read Articles

Former Leyden police chief Daniel Galvis charged with larceny
My Turn: The truth about time spent on MCAS testing
GMLB, Newt Guilbault gets seasons underway Sunday (PHOTOS)
Millers Meadow idea would ‘completely transform’ Colrain Street lot in Greenfield
Bulletin Board: Gary Tashjian, Cheri McCarthy win Twice As Smart Pickleball Tournament
Greenfield Girls Softball League opens its 2024 season (PHOTOS)

“He was huge,” said Taconic coach Matt Risley of his goalie. “We talked during a timeout and I just said, ‘Cam, you need to eat it all up.’ He was on his angles, did a great job. It was hold your breath late, but we got through it.”

Not capitalizing on the 5-on-3 situation was a bit surprising for Greenfield, which converts on the power play at about a 46 percent clip on the season.

“Our power play has been pretty powerful,” Bouchard said. “We had some really good chances. A couple were stopped, a few we missed open nets on… we had some chances but we just didn’t bury them and that’s the name of the game at this time of the season.”

Needing a jolt of energy to get going, the Green Wave used their power play to strike for a pair of late first-period goals and set the tone.

Derek Wissmann netted the first of the night, receiving a nice pass from Brady Booska from behind the Taconic net. Wissmann’s slapshot got through the pads of Laferriere, staking Greenfield to a 1-0 lead with 4:13 left in the opening frame. Shawn Baumann picked up a secondary assist on the goal.

Just over two minutes later, the Wave doubled their advantage — once again via a power play goal.

Jack Laurie carried the puck behind the Taconic goal and fired a shot near-post that somehow snuck in the small space between Laferriere and the post to make it 2-0. Jake Jurek was credited with an assist on the play.

While Greenfield held a 9-3 edge in shots during the first period, things changed in a hurry once the puck dropped for the second frame.

Just nine seconds into the period, Taconic’s Cody Soper got his side on the board for the first time when he broke in on the left side and piped a shot into the back of the net.

The quick start continued, and the Thunder tied the game with their second goal less than a minute later. This time it was Dom Velasco, who received a pass from Bishop in front of Wave goalie Cooper Smith. Velasco’s first shot at point blank range was saved, but he stayed with it and poked the rebound with the backhand by Smith to tie the game 2-2.

Action looked destined to stay tied into the third period, but Taconic cashed in on a late power play opportunity when Greenfield was whistled for holding the stick with two minutes left.

Bishop was rewarded for his earlier helper on a hustle-play feed from Velasco, who kept the play alive near the Greenfield goal and slid the puck along. Bishop buried the opportunity in tight, over the shoulder of Smith to give the Thunder a 3-2 advantage with just 29.8 seconds left before the second intermission.

That lead held until Bishop’s empty net strike put it out of reach.

“We tried to get our energy up but we were a bit flat for really the entire game,” Bouchard said.