Belchertown skates past Chicopee and into postseason

For the Gazette
Published: 2/22/2019 11:35:13 PM

AMHERST — The Belchertown ice hockey looked ready for the playoffs with an 8-2 win over Chicopee, Friday night at the Mullins Center Practice Rink.

The Orioles closed the regular season at 12-3-3. Chicopee is 9-8-3. Tournament seeds will be announced Saturday at 9 a.m. at Amelia Park Rink in Westfield.

Friday’s win came following a tie against Easthampton on Thursday, after Belchertown surrendered a two-goal lead in the third period. The tie left the Orioles and Greenfield as co-champs of the Wright Division.

“The boys deserved it. My coaching staff and the school really deserved it,” Belchertown coach Matt Crutch said of the title. “It means a lot, it really does. I’ve been coaching for 20 years and this is the first time I’ve had a co-championship team, so it’s important to us.”

Belchertown came out of the gate red hot Friday. The Orioles were aggressive to start, getting off several shots before Chicopee tallied its first.

Five minutes in, Belchertown’s AJ Velez scored the first goal off a slick pass from Andrew Fijal from behind the net.

Minutes later, Fijal was penalized giving Chicopee a two-minute power play, however, the Pacers couldn’t capitalize. The Orioles’ penalty kill held the puck in the opponent’s end for almost the entire power play, even getting off a couple shots short-handed.

The Pacers’ misfortune changed when Trevor Seidell-Poirier scored on a breakaway in the closing seconds of the first, ending the period tied 1-1.

Belchertown controlled the second period. The Orioles scored six goals, including two each from Frances Nigro and Vaughn Gillen. Meanwhile, Chicopee got off several good looks at the net but were held scoreless in the period.

“We actually put pucks on goal instead of going high and wide,” Crutch said. “You got to put the puck on net, and we did and we really emphasized it. We came out firing.”

The Pacers made it 7-2 five minutes into the period off a goal by Collin Kendra.

Belchertown answered halfway through the period after Fijal scored the final goal by flicking the puck stick side into the goal.

Ethan Rajpold made 12 saves and Jake Delaney stopped 18 in goal for Belchertown.

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