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Gazette Hockey Player of the Year: Jeff Beauregard of South Hadley

Jeff Beauregard, center, of South Hadley, has been named the Daily Hampshire Gazette Hockey Player of the Year.

Jeff Beauregard, center, of South Hadley, has been named the Daily Hampshire Gazette Hockey Player of the Year. Purchase photo reprints »

If there’s ever been an example of a true throwback hockey player at the high school level, South Hadley’s Jeff Beauregard fit the bill this season.

Entering his senior season, Beauregard knew he’d play many different roles for the Tigers. But his production at both ends and the sheer amount of quality ice time he amassed stood out.

Beauregard has been named the Daily Hampshire Gazette Hockey Player of the Year for the 2012-13 season.

“I was pretty happy to get such an honor,” he said. “We had plenty of guys on our own team that could have won it. (This season) I figured I’d get moved around quite a bit and moved to forward on occasion. I was open to playing anywhere Coach and the team needed me.”

He spent the majority of his playing time as a defenseman, and most games logged well over 30 of 45 minutes as the Tigers rotated only three blueliners. South Hadley allowed just 42 goals in 23 games, an average of 1.8 per game.

“We were much more of a defensive team this year,” Tigers coach John Houle said. “Beauregard and (Tom) Crotty were basically forwards and defenseman at the same time. When we needed some scoring punch we can move those guys anywhere. They allowed us to take some chances on the attack.”

Beauregard said, “In the past few years, I stayed back most of the time, didn’t do a whole lot outside our zone. But I had to take things into my own hands more this year. I carried the puck more, tried to make more plays instead of just sitting back.”

South Hadley (16-4-3) lost to Agawam 5-1 in the Western Massachusetts Division 3A title game on March 7, ending the Tigers’ four-year reign. However, considering the program lost over 80 percent of its offensive production from the previous season, it’s hard to label the season as anything but a success.

“Not only did we lose all those great players (to graduation), we also lost a couple key guys during the course of the season,” Beauregard said. “So we had to overcome a lot and we worked really hard. So I’m happy with our season, even though we didn’t win western Mass. again. Getting to the title game was a great accomplishment for our team.”

Beauregard racked up eight points (two goals and six assists) during three postseason games. He picked up four points in the quarterfinals, three more in the semis, then assisted on the lone tally in the championship. For the entire season, he eclipsed the 30-point mark.

Stepping up his game even further in the tournament exemplifies his effective leadership style.

“I think that had to do with the excitement of the playoffs and it being my last run, I wanted to go out with a bang,” Beauregard said. “I felt I needed to be more of an on-ice leader. Tom Crotty and I did most of the communicating while the game went on. With some of the younger guys on defense, I tried to help them any way I could.”

The senior’s size and wingspan helped make him a premier shutdown defenseman, and his speed allowed him to jumpstart the attack through the neutral zone. With a talented but inexperienced group of forwards, Beauregard’s total skill set was needed.

“We weren’t the biggest team this year, so bringing my size helped us in all zones,” he said. “And speed is important no matter what position you play, whether rushing the puck up for a scoring opportunity or getting back on the backcheck.”

The Tigers still had the one of the top offensive attacks in the area, but needed to be stingier in their own end to compete for another title. And that played perfectly into Beauregard’s game.

“I definitely like to prevent a goal more than to score one,” he said. “Especially if I can break up an odd-man rush where the other team has a good chance to score. That’s always been more thrilling for me personally.”

His ability to prevent goals and help his team score them was noticed by the region’s hockey community, as Beauregard was one of two finalists for the Eddie Shore Award, given to the best defenseman in western Mass. Cathedral’s Matt Foley took home the award Sunday.

“I got nominated by the coaches, the referees and the Bessone Committee,” Beauregard said. “To win that award would have been huge for me, especially since I’m trying to impress potential college programs.”

Beauregard will attend Wentworth Institute of Technology in Boston to study civil engineering. He said he’s been in touch with the hockey coach and hopes to continue his career at the Division III level.

“All of the seniors we’re losing were valuable, but Jeff’s obviously a huge loss because of his play and his leadership,” Houle said.

Beauregard leaves the South Hadley program with four appearances in the Western Massachusetts Division 3A championship, three sectional titles and a state crown in 2011, the season he’ll remember most.

“That was the first season when I played a significant role and had a regular shift,” he said. “And being able to win a state title with my brother (Dan) is something I’ll always remember.”

Michael Wilkinson can be reached at mwilkinson@gazettenet.com.

First team

Luke Allen, senior, Amherst

Jeff Beauregard, senior, South Hadley

Cody Booska, junior, Turners Falls

Rob Carmel, senior, Easthampton

Tom Crotty, junior, South Hadley

Mike Grise, sophomore, Easthampton

Devin Hoagland, junior, South Hadley

Beau Kass, sophomore, South Hadley

John Leonard, freshman, Cathedral

Trevor Peduzzi, junior, Turners Falls

Tim Pfau, junior, Easthampton

Eddie Sablak, senior, Amherst

Matt Sarafin, senior, Easthampton

Evan Sullivan, freshman, South Hadley

Honorable mention

Alex Bachand, sophomore, Belchertown

Brian Bak, sophomore, South Hadley

Tom Dowd, senior, South Hadley

Andrew Fleming, senior, Easthampton

Ben Kravetz, junior, South Hadley

Brandon Lenois, senior, Turners Falls

Tim McMahon, senior, Turners Falls

Christian Sawicki, senior, Turners Falls

Alex Zadworny, junior, Easthampton

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