×

Easthampton beats Belchertown, 5-2, for first WMass Division 3A hockey title

  • Easthampton celebrates their win against Belchertown during the Division 3 Western Massachusetts Ice Hockey Championship game, Thursday, March 8, 2018 at the Olympia Ice Center, West Springfield, Massachusetts. —GAZETTE STAFF/CAROLINE O'CONNOR

  • Belchertown defenseman, Daniel Chrzanowski, left, fights to maintain control over the puck against Easthampton's Garren Fugiel, right, during the Division 3 Western Massachusetts Ice Hockey Championship game, Thursday, March 8, 2018 at the Olympia Ice Center, West Springfield, Massachusetts. —GAZETTE STAFF/CAROLINE O'CONNOR

  • Belchertown's goaltender, Jake Delaney, center, eyes the puck coming toward him during the Division 3 Western Massachusetts Ice Hockey Championship game, Thursday, March 8, 2018 at the Olympia Ice Center, West Springfield, Massachusetts. —GAZETTE STAFF/CAROLINE O'CONNOR

  • Easthampton celebrates their second goal against Belchertown during the Division 3 Western Massachusetts Ice Hockey Championship game, Thursday, March 8, 2018 at the Olympia Ice Center, West Springfield, Massachusetts. —GAZETTE STAFF/CAROLINE O'CONNOR

  • Easthampton's forward, Garren Fugiel, center, takes the puck down ice toward Belchtertown's goaltender, Jake Delaney, during the Division 3 Western Massachusetts Ice Hockey Championship game, Thursday, March 8, 2018 at the Olympia Ice Center, West Springfield, Massachusetts. —GAZETTE STAFF/CAROLINE O'CONNOR

  • Easthampton's forward, Garren Fugiel, center left, raced the puck down ice against Belchertown's Francis Nigro, background, during the Division 3 Western Massachusetts Ice Hockey Championship game, Thursday, March 8, 2018 at the Olympia Ice Center, West Springfield, Massachusetts. —GAZETTE STAFF/CAROLINE O'CONNOR

  • Easthampton's forward, Garren Fugiel, center, attempts to maintain control over the puck against Belchertown's, left to right, Cody Lambert, Nate Pacheco and Alexander Velez, during the Division 3 Western Massachusetts Ice Hockey Championship game, Thursday, March 8, 2018 at the Olympia Ice Center, West Springfield, Massachusetts. —GAZETTE STAFF/CAROLINE O'CONNOR

  • Belchertown's captain and senior defenseman, Nate Pacheco, left, moves the puck away from Easthampton's Garren Fugiel during the Division 3 Western Massachusetts Ice Hockey Championship game, Thursday, March 8, 2018 at the Olympia Ice Center, West Springfield, Massachusetts. —GAZETTE STAFF/CAROLINE O'CONNOR

  • Easthampton's goaltender, Nate Barnes, center, readies his glove hand for the oncoming puck during the Division 3 Western Massachusetts Ice Hockey Championship game, Thursday, March 8, 2018 at the Olympia Ice Center, West Springfield, Massachusetts. —GAZETTE STAFF/CAROLINE O'CONNOR

  • Easthampton's Jacob Batchelder, center right, hugs and consoles Belchertown's captain Nate Pacheco during the Division 3 Western Massachusetts Ice Hockey Championship game, Thursday, March 8, 2018 at the Olympia Ice Center, West Springfield, Massachusetts. —GAZETTE STAFF/CAROLINE O'CONNOR

  • Easthampton's captain, Christopher Tenczar, right, hugs teammate, Jacob Batchelder, left, after their team won their game against Belchertown during the Division 3 Western Massachusetts Ice Hockey Championship game, Thursday, March 8, 2018 at the Olympia Ice Center, West Springfield, Massachusetts. —GAZETTE STAFF/CAROLINE O'CONNOR

  • Easthampton's captains, left to right, Mikey McColgan, Dillan Wilson and Chris Tenczar, receive their first-place trophy after winning their game against Belchertown during the Division 3 Western Massachusetts Ice Hockey Championship game, Thursday, March 8, 2018 at the Olympia Ice Center, West Springfield, Massachusetts. —GAZETTE STAFF/CAROLINE O'CONNOR

  • Easthampton's captain, Chris Tenczar, foreground, holds his teammates, left to right, Nate Barnes, Jacob Batchelder and Cole Growhoski, after his team won their game against Belchertown during the Division 3 Western Massachusetts Ice Hockey Championship game, Thursday, March 8, 2018 at the Olympia Ice Center, West Springfield, Massachusetts. —GAZETTE STAFF/CAROLINE O'CONNOR

  • Easthampton celebrates their win against Belchertown during the Division 3 Western Massachusetts Ice Hockey Championship game, Thursday, March 8, 2018 at the Olympia Ice Center, West Springfield, Massachusetts. —GAZETTE STAFF/CAROLINE O'CONNOR

  • Easthampton celebrates their win against Belchertown during the Division 3 Western Massachusetts Ice Hockey Championship game, Thursday, March 8, 2018 at the Olympia Ice Center, West Springfield, Massachusetts. —GAZETTE STAFF/CAROLINE O'CONNOR

  • Belchertown's forward, Matt Pacheco, holds himself when his team loses to Easthampton during the Division 3 Western Massachusetts Ice Hockey Championship game, Thursday, March 8, 2018 at the Olympia Ice Center, West Springfield, Massachusetts. —GAZETTE STAFF/CAROLINE O'CONNOR



For the Gazette
Thursday, March 08, 2018

WEST SPRINGFIELD — Garren Fugiel lined up for a faceoff after nearly finishing what could have been a game-sealing goal on the previous rush. Easthampton led Belchertown by one goal at the time, and the Eagles were threatening to put the game away with just over five minutes left in the third period.

When the puck dropped, there was an initial scramble for possession, but Fugiel eventually corralled it. He stood on the right side of the ice, and ripped a shot headed toward goal. The puck weaved its way through several players and past the outstretched glove of Belchertown goalie Ethan Rajpold, and landed in the back of the net.

The goal pushed Easthampton past Belchertown for the Eagles’ first ever Western Massachusetts Division 3A title, 5-2, Thursday at the Olympia Ice Center.

“It feels amazing. I have no words for it,” said Fugiel, who tallied an assist in addition to his two goals.

Easthampton controlled the match from the opening faceoff, creating endless amounts of offensive opportunities and over 30 shots on goal.

“We really worked on our forecheck throughout the year,” Eagles coach Bill Grise said. “(The team) didn’t let up the entire game, and that’s all I could ask for.”

CJ Tenczar opened the scoring in the first period with an impressive individual attack. He received a pass from Fugiel at about mid-ice, and approached the blue line from the left side. From there, he executed a crafty deke that got him past his only defender, setting him up 1-on-1 with Rajpold.

Tenczar slowed down a bit, deked from the left side of the goal to the right, and finished past a diving Rajpold to give the Eagles a 1-0 lead.

With under a minute left in the period, Belchertown answered. In what looked like a pass headed toward the goal from Nathan Ayers, Nathan Pacheco diverted the puck at the last second with his stick, sending in between the legs of Easthampton goalie Nate Barnes and into the goal to tie to game at 1-1.

“I wasn’t really too worried,” Grise said. “It might have looked like a little bit of a lapse, but I had all the confidence in my guys.”

In the second period, the Eagles continued to test Rajpold. After Belchertown successfully killed a power play, Easthampton struck for its second goal. After an attempted wraparound shot was saved by Rajpold, Ely Boyle hit a one-timer off the rebound to give the Eagles a 2-1 lead.

Just three minutes into the third period, Easthampton scored again off of a second-chance opportunity. After Rajpold made three consecutive saves, Fugiel picked up the rebound and finished, extending the lead to 3-1.

But four minutes later, the Orioles cut into the deficit with a power-play goal from Vaughn Gillen. He picked up a loose puck right inside the blue line and fired a wrist shot that found the top-left corner of the goal.

The Eagles killed three out of four Belchertown power plays.

“I think our defense did step up, but I give a lot of credit to our forwards,” Grise said. “They have a great forecheck on the penalty kill. It makes it really difficult for teams to set anything up.”

After Fugiel’s second goal, John Zatowski added an empty-netter in the closing minutes.

“Tonight we just started putting all the pieces together and it worked out our way,” Grise said. “It feels amazing.”

The Eagles (12-3-7) will play the winner of the Central Mass. 3A tournament next week in the state finals. The Central Mass. tournament is in the semifinal round. Grafton plays Northbridge and Lunenburg plays Worcester. Both games are Friday.

Belchertown, which knocked off No. 4 Chicopee Comp and No. 1 Chicopee to reach the finals, finished 8-7-4.