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South Hadley hockey team looks forward to future

  • Beau Kass of South Hadley passes against Seamus Curran of Agawam Thursday at Olympia Rink.<br/>JERREY ROBERTS

    Beau Kass of South Hadley passes against Seamus Curran of Agawam Thursday at Olympia Rink.
    JERREY ROBERTS Purchase photo reprints »

  • Beau Kass of South Hadley, top right, absorbs a check from Seamus Curran of Agawam beside Alex Ablianitis Thursday at Olympia Rink. <br/>JERREY ROBERTS

    Beau Kass of South Hadley, top right, absorbs a check from Seamus Curran of Agawam beside Alex Ablianitis Thursday at Olympia Rink.
    JERREY ROBERTS Purchase photo reprints »

  • Nick Harris of South Hadley, left, moves the puck ahead of Billy Wysocki of Agawam Thursday at Olympia Rink.JERREY ROBERTS

    Nick Harris of South Hadley, left, moves the puck ahead of Billy Wysocki of Agawam Thursday at Olympia Rink.JERREY ROBERTS Purchase photo reprints »

  • South Hadley goalie Devin Hoagland blocks a shot from Agawam as Brian Bak looks on Thursday at Olympia Rink. <br/>JERREY ROBERTS

    South Hadley goalie Devin Hoagland blocks a shot from Agawam as Brian Bak looks on Thursday at Olympia Rink.
    JERREY ROBERTS Purchase photo reprints »

  • Tom Dowd of South Hadley passes against Corey Jenks of Agawam Thursday at Olympia Rink.<br/>JERREY ROBERTS

    Tom Dowd of South Hadley passes against Corey Jenks of Agawam Thursday at Olympia Rink.
    JERREY ROBERTS Purchase photo reprints »

  • Beau Kass of South Hadley passes against Seamus Curran of Agawam Thursday at Olympia Rink.<br/>JERREY ROBERTS
  • Beau Kass of South Hadley, top right, absorbs a check from Seamus Curran of Agawam beside Alex Ablianitis Thursday at Olympia Rink. <br/>JERREY ROBERTS
  • Nick Harris of South Hadley, left, moves the puck ahead of Billy Wysocki of Agawam Thursday at Olympia Rink.JERREY ROBERTS
  • South Hadley goalie Devin Hoagland blocks a shot from Agawam as Brian Bak looks on Thursday at Olympia Rink. <br/>JERREY ROBERTS
  • Tom Dowd of South Hadley passes against Corey Jenks of Agawam Thursday at Olympia Rink.<br/>JERREY ROBERTS

WEST SPRINGFIELD

As the South Hadley hockey team skated off the ice following its 5-1 loss to Agawam in the Western Massachusetts Division 3A title game Thursday night, the disappointment on the players’ faces was evident.

But after entering the dressing room and taking a few moments to reflect on the game and the season, the Tigers realized they have much for which to be proud — and hopeful.

“This is a really good experience for us. I think the guys gained a lot from getting here and playing in this game,” South Hadley coach John Houle said. “Most of these kids will be moving into their spring sport next week, so this won’t bother them too much.”

South Hadley (16-4-3) fell short of its fifth consecutive sectional title, but in what was billed as a transitional season after losing roughly 85 percent of their scoring to graduation, reaching the championship game is no doubt a success.

“I’m really proud of my team for getting this far,” senior captain Jeff Beauregard said. “We lost so much from last season’s team, so I didn’t know how good we’d end up being. But we played our hearts out, and if it had to end I’m glad it was here in the western Mass. final.”

Following a 2-2 start, the Tigers finished the season on a 14-2-3 stretch. The loss in the final was their first to a Division 3A squad since December.

“Halfway through the season, we really came together and decided to make a run toward another western Mass. title,” sophomore forward Beau Kass said. “Our practices were great from that point on, and before we knew it we were in the tournament, then in the final.”

Senior Tom Dowd is the lone player the Tigers will lose among those who skated a regular forward shift. Their top line is anchored by freshman center Evan Sullivan and Kass, who scored the team’s lone goal Thursday. Houle is projected to have 11 seniors return for the 2013-14 season.

“We’re strong in skill but we were a young team this year,” Kass said. “I think maybe we needed this loss to learn what it takes. We have to improve in all areas to get back to this point and win, but we’re pretty close.”

Of course, South Hadley is all set in goal for at least one more season. Devin Hoagland will return for his senior year with a pair of western Mass. titles and a state crown under his belt.

“We know we have one of the best goalies, which is always a good start for a hockey team,” Kass said.

Beauregard represents the biggest loss to the team, both on the ice and in the dressing room. But he has no doubts his teammates can restore the Tigers to their championship level.

“Most of these guys will be back, and I think they’ll want it even more after losing in the final,” Beauregard said.

Fully in agreement, Kass said, “We’re going to remember this feeling as we prepare for next season. This will serve as motivation. I was on the (2012) championship team as a freshman, so now I know both feelings. We’re going to come back ready to reclaim it.”

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

Related

South Hadley falls to Agawam in Division 3A hockey final

Friday, March 8, 2013

WEST SPRINGFIELD — When evenly matched programs meet in a one-game playoff scenario four seasons in a row, each team is bound to claim victory at some point. The South Hadley hockey team saw its four-year reign as Western Massachusetts Division 3A champions come to an end Thursday evening in a 5-1 loss to Agawam in the sectional final at … 0

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