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Wahconah rallies late to stun Easthampton hockey

  • Tim Pfau of Easthampton, right, drives to the goal against Austin Poulton of Wahconah Thursday at Olympia Rink.<br/>JERREY ROBERTS

    Tim Pfau of Easthampton, right, drives to the goal against Austin Poulton of Wahconah Thursday at Olympia Rink.
    JERREY ROBERTS Purchase photo reprints »

  • Mike Grise of Easthampton, right, moves the puck against David Senecal of Wahconah Thursday at Olympia Rink.JERREY ROBERTS

    Mike Grise of Easthampton, right, moves the puck against David Senecal of Wahconah Thursday at Olympia Rink.JERREY ROBERTS Purchase photo reprints »

  • Cody Cleveland of Easthampton, center, shoots against Wahconah goalie Roger Stedman Thursday at Olympia Rink. Liam Anderson looks on.<br/>JERREY ROBERTS

    Cody Cleveland of Easthampton, center, shoots against Wahconah goalie Roger Stedman Thursday at Olympia Rink. Liam Anderson looks on.
    JERREY ROBERTS Purchase photo reprints »

  • Rob Carmel of Easthampton, right, fires an outside shot past Patrick Jamross of Wahconah Thursday at Olympia Rink.<br/>JERREY ROBERTS

    Rob Carmel of Easthampton, right, fires an outside shot past Patrick Jamross of Wahconah Thursday at Olympia Rink.
    JERREY ROBERTS Purchase photo reprints »

  • Mike Grise of Easthampton celebrates his goal against Wahconah in the first period Thursday at Olympia Rink.JERREY ROBERTS

    Mike Grise of Easthampton celebrates his goal against Wahconah in the first period Thursday at Olympia Rink.JERREY ROBERTS Purchase photo reprints »

  • Tim Pfau of Easthampton, right, drives to the goal against Austin Poulton of Wahconah Thursday at Olympia Rink.<br/>JERREY ROBERTS

    Tim Pfau of Easthampton, right, drives to the goal against Austin Poulton of Wahconah Thursday at Olympia Rink.
    JERREY ROBERTS Purchase photo reprints »

  • Mike Grise of Easthampton, right, moves the puck against David Senecal of Wahconah Thursday at Olympia Rink.JERREY ROBERTS

    Mike Grise of Easthampton, right, moves the puck against David Senecal of Wahconah Thursday at Olympia Rink.JERREY ROBERTS Purchase photo reprints »

  • Cody Cleveland of Easthampton, center, shoots against Wahconah goalie Roger Stedman Thursday at Olympia Rink. Liam Anderson looks on.<br/>JERREY ROBERTS

    Cody Cleveland of Easthampton, center, shoots against Wahconah goalie Roger Stedman Thursday at Olympia Rink. Liam Anderson looks on.
    JERREY ROBERTS Purchase photo reprints »

  • Rob Carmel of Easthampton, right, fires an outside shot past Patrick Jamross of Wahconah Thursday at Olympia Rink.<br/>JERREY ROBERTS

    Rob Carmel of Easthampton, right, fires an outside shot past Patrick Jamross of Wahconah Thursday at Olympia Rink.
    JERREY ROBERTS Purchase photo reprints »

  • Mike Grise of Easthampton celebrates his goal against Wahconah in the first period Thursday at Olympia Rink.JERREY ROBERTS

    Mike Grise of Easthampton celebrates his goal against Wahconah in the first period Thursday at Olympia Rink.JERREY ROBERTS Purchase photo reprints »

  • Tim Pfau of Easthampton, right, drives to the goal against Austin Poulton of Wahconah Thursday at Olympia Rink.<br/>JERREY ROBERTS
  • Mike Grise of Easthampton, right, moves the puck against David Senecal of Wahconah Thursday at Olympia Rink.JERREY ROBERTS
  • Cody Cleveland of Easthampton, center, shoots against Wahconah goalie Roger Stedman Thursday at Olympia Rink. Liam Anderson looks on.<br/>JERREY ROBERTS
  • Rob Carmel of Easthampton, right, fires an outside shot past Patrick Jamross of Wahconah Thursday at Olympia Rink.<br/>JERREY ROBERTS
  • Mike Grise of Easthampton celebrates his goal against Wahconah in the first period Thursday at Olympia Rink.JERREY ROBERTS
  • Tim Pfau of Easthampton, right, drives to the goal against Austin Poulton of Wahconah Thursday at Olympia Rink.<br/>JERREY ROBERTS
  • Mike Grise of Easthampton, right, moves the puck against David Senecal of Wahconah Thursday at Olympia Rink.JERREY ROBERTS
  • Cody Cleveland of Easthampton, center, shoots against Wahconah goalie Roger Stedman Thursday at Olympia Rink. Liam Anderson looks on.<br/>JERREY ROBERTS
  • Rob Carmel of Easthampton, right, fires an outside shot past Patrick Jamross of Wahconah Thursday at Olympia Rink.<br/>JERREY ROBERTS
  • Mike Grise of Easthampton celebrates his goal against Wahconah in the first period Thursday at Olympia Rink.JERREY ROBERTS

WEST SPRINGFIELD — The postseason setting was not too big for the Easthampton hockey team, whose entire roster had never played a single playoff game before Thursday evening.

However, a veteran tournament squad in Wahconah Regional didn’t want to go home early and staged a furious rally in the Western Massachusetts Division 3A quarterfinals at the Olympia.

The Eagles appeared well on their way to a berth in the semifinals, but four unanswered tallies in the final 2 minutes, 45 seconds gave the Warriors a 5-3 victory.

“I’m very happy with my guys, especially with this being our first time in the tournament,” said Easthampton coach Greg Smith. “Now we have some playoff experience. There were some jitters, but we won most of the game.”

Senior goaltender Matt Sarafin finished with 43 saves, several of the spectacular variety. He made three point-blank stops in the third period to keep the Eagles ahead.

“He was very good, as he’s been all year,” Smith said. “It’s just too bad we couldn’t close it out for him.”

Senior captain Rob Carmel scored a pair of goals with an assist for the No. 5 Eagles (9-5-5), who took the ice in a playoff game for the first time since 2009.

The Warriors’ reward is a semifinal matchup at 6 p.m. Monday with top-seeded Agawam (16-3-2), a 4-0 winner over No. 8 Turners Falls (10-9-2) in the quarters.

“We really had our backs to the wall, but as they have all season, these guys pulled it out,” said Wahconah coach Don Disbrow. “Sarafin was stopping all of the first shots, and for most of the game their defense cleared the rebounds. We wanted to keep putting shots on and attacking the rebounds.”

Ryan Ouimet, who was kept in check most of the game by Sarafin and the Eagles defense, picked up a natural hat trick over the final three minutes of regulation.

Carmel knocked home a rebound just inside the left post for a power-play tally just 42 seconds into the second, then added insurance 5:31 into the third by tipping in a shot from the point by David York.

The two-goal advantage held up until the final minutes, then the game turned on a questionable cross-checking penalty around the net as Sarafin was besieged by Wahconah attackers.

“It was a marginal call and it certainly changed the makeup of the game,” said Smith. “It’s too bad that a call like that would be made with just a few minutes left. Our players were just trying to protect our goalie. But at the end of the game, we couldn’t hold the line.”

Fewer than 10 seconds later, Ouimet popped in a rebound to make it 3-2. A revived Wahconah squad, who had just nine skaters, tilted the ice from that point.

“When you get life back in you, adrenaline kicks in and takes over,” Smith said. “I give Wahconah credit. They dug down and did what they needed to do. I wish them well.”

On the next shift, Patrick Jamross put a low shot that Sarafin stopped with the right pad, but Ouimet scored on the rebound to even it up.

Then with 1:11 left and the Warriors back in the attacking zone, Nick Montferret delivered a perfect backdoor feed to Lane Grogan for the game winner.

Ouimet completed the hat trick on an empty-netter with 4 seconds left.

“I don’t know if we had new legs, but that call was a break we needed,” Disbrow said. “We have some guys who can move the puck around well and can finish.”

Eagles sophomore Mike Grise had a goal late in the first to tie it 1-1. York and Gabe Fagen added assists.

It was the final high school game for Sarafin, Carmel, Andrew Fleming and Kris Pause.

Agawam 4, Turners Falls 0 — Freshman Brandon Bryant made 46 saves for the No. 8 Indians (10-9-2), who had their season ended by the Brownies for the second straight season.

Bryant, who attends Frontier Regional, stopped 21 shots in the first period alone.

“He’s just a freshman, but he played like a seasoned veteran out there,” said Turners coach Kevin Brennan. “Just a tremendous performance.”

Turners could only muster 12 shots on Agawam goalie Anthony Ascioti. Its best scoring chance came trailing 2-0 midway through the third when Trevor Peduzzi hit the post on a power play.

Corey Jenks tallied twice for the top seed, while Alex Ablianitis and Billy Wysocki added a goal apiece.

“Agawam’s a very deep, very strong team all around,” said Brennan. “They’re like piranhas around the net. Our game plan was to hang in there, which we did into the third.”

The loss marked the final high school game for Turners seniors Brandon Lenois, Will Miller, Christian Sawicki and Tim McMahon.

Michael Wilkinson can be reached at mwilkinson@gazettenet.com. Follow him on Twitter @mjwilk1237.

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