Friday, February 07, 2014
EASTHAMPTON — The Easthampton hockey team felt confident after a late second-period goal brought it within one of Chicopee Comp Wednesday night.
But the third period proved disastrous for the Eagles, who allowed seven tallies in a 9-1 setback at Lossone Rink.
“You’ve got to give Comp credit,” Easthampton coach Greg Smith said. “We had them in a bit of a tough spot going into the third. But their kids rose to the occasion and we didn’t.”
Tim Pfau scored on the power play with 37 seconds remaining in the second to make it 2-1 going into the final 15 minutes.
But the Colts put in a pair of goals in an eight-second span just over three minutes into the third.
“Those back-to-back goals really took the wind out of us,” Smith said.
Roughly a minute later, they scored twice in 20 seconds to extend the lead to 6-1.
Comp senior forward and leading scorer Travis Seymour had a hat trick with four assists. Jeremy Lewis (two goals, three assists) added five points.
“We had great momentum there, but those lapses defensively took it away, then they poured it on,” Pfau said. “They caught us with their speed in this game, especially Seymour, who’s an amazing player.”
Assisting on Pfau’s tally were Alex Zadworny and Gabe Fagen. From the defensive zone, Zadworny delivered a cross-ice pass to Pfau on the left wing. The senior captain raced into the attacking zone and cut to the net before beating goalie Parker Nunes (18 saves).
“Alex gave me a great pass, and at that point I used my speed to get by the defender and I saw the five-hole open,” Pfau said.
Eagles netminder Sean Rose made 17 saves. He played well in the first two periods to keep Easthampton within striking distance.
A fast-paced and physical first period yielded a few shots for each side and just one goal, as Seymour scored his first with 3:36 left. He doubled the lead in the first minute of the second period with a snap shot past Rose.
After falling behind by a pair, the Eagles dominated the rest of the second, putting 12 shots on Nunes. Mike Grise and Cody Cleveland hit posts in the period.
“We came out and totally controlled the second and encouraged the guys to play the same way in the third, but we couldn’t do it,” Smith said. “We had defensive errors and our goalie was a little off. Tim’s goal should have changed the momentum but it didn’t.”
Top-line forwards Grise (19 goals) and Pfau (seven) have scored 26 of the team’s 37 goals so far.
“We know our other lines are capable of putting up goals for us, so as a top line we just have to go out and play,” Pfau said.
Hurting the Eagles’ cause Wednesday night was the absence of second-liners Zach Lewis and Jake Opalenik, both too injured to play.
“When one player has more goals than the rest of the team combined, that’s a bit of a problem,” Smith said. “Injuries have been tough on us, and at full strength we’re a really strong team.”
With five games left, Easthampton needs four of a possible 10 points to clinch its second straight postseason berth. The Eagles have alternated wins and losses over their last six.
“Winning one and losing one isn’t good enough, and just making the playoffs isn’t good enough,” Smith said. “We thought of ourselves as one of the top contenders going into the season, and I still believe we can be. I think we coaches have to question ourselves about how we’re preparing this team.”
Pfau said, “I’ve been asking myself the question about how we’re going to come out of this. I think we need one big win and try to build momentum off of that. We know we can score and we know we can win games consistently, but it’s a matter of getting it done.”
Michael Wilkinson can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.