Third-period surge by Chicopee freezes Belchertown hockey in WMass Division 3A semifinals

  • Adam Mattingly, left, of Belchertown, moves the puck against Taconic during the Western Massachusetts Division 3A quarterfinal round, Tuesday at Olympia Ice Center in West Springfield. Belchertown fell to Chicopee, 8-3, in the semifinal on Saturday. GAZETTE STAFF/JERREY ROBERTS

For the Gazette
Published: 3/4/2017 11:19:49 PM

WEST SPRINGFIELD — The first period was one the Belchertown hockey team would rather forget.

The second period was much better. Belchertown carried the play for most of the frame, and even though the Orioles were on the short end of a two-goal deficit, they were very much in the game.

Until disaster struck during the third period

Top-seeded Chicopee capitalized on a major penalty and struck for three power-play goals in a span of 2 minutes, 17 seconds Saturday en route to an 8-3 triumph over No. 5 Belchertown in a Western Massachusetts Division 3A semifinal at the Olympia.

“We play with a lot of emotion and unfortunately, our emotions got away from us in the third period,’’ Belchertown coach Matt Crutch said.

Belchertown (10-6-4) had Chicopee (19-1-1) on its heels for the majority of the second period.

Freshman Vaughn Gillen scored the only goal of the second period during a power play at 8 minutes, 47 seconds to slice Chicopee’s lead to 4-2. It was Vaughn’s fifth goal of the tournament.

“He has a bright future,” Crutch said. “He’s a big strong kid from a big hockey family. He’s a special player.”

Chicopee, which will play No. 3 South Hadley (11-7-3) at 5:30 p.m. Thursday at the Olympia for the Western Mass. title, regrouped following the second period. The Pacers got back to playing an up-tempo game and used their speed to control play.

“Things got away from us in the third period,’’ Crutch said. “I’m proud of these guys.’’

Belchertown had no choice but to play physical. But that one late lapse in discipline proved fatal in the third period.

“You can’t put a team like Chicopee on the power play for four minutes,’’ Crutch said. “Five on five, we’re as good as any team in the league.’’

John Baker started the late scoring spree with his second goal less than a minute later, Ryan McDonough completed his hat trick to give Chicopee a 6-2 edge.

The dagger came with only five seconds remaining on the power play when Baker drilled a hard shot from the left circle past Kyle Greene (32 saves) to give the Pacers an 8-3 advantage.

“They’re a talented team,’’ Crutch said. “We told our guys how important it was to stay out of the box.

Five of Chicopee’s goals came via the power play. Chicopee has not lost to a Division 3A team this season. It’s lone loss was to Agawam.

Brett Geoffroy scored Chicopee’s final goal, which came with 3:15 remaining before Chris Buffone closed the scoring for Belchertown with 8.6 seconds left in the game.

McDonough was a force that Belchertown had no answer. He finished with five points following a three-goal, two-assist effort.

McDonough opened the scoring unassisted 3:15 into the game.

Nick Breem added a power-play goal at 5:44 to provide the Pacers with a 2-0 lead. He converted a rebound past Greene.

Belchertown caught a break after Gillen was credited with an unassisted goal. Chicopee defenseman Ben Jablonski used a high stick to bat the puck in the crease where Gillen had the presence of mind to knock it past Miner as the Orioles cut the Pacers’ lead in half, 2-1.

But Chicopee recovered. McDonough and Mike Palmero scored goals 14 seconds apart to give Chicopee a 4-1 lead.

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