Division 3A hockey: Easthampton falls short in second straight state championship

  • Easthampton goalie Tyler Cortis deflects a shot as Liam Gill, of Northbridge, approaches during the state Division 3A championship, Wednesday in Worcester. STAFF PHOTO/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Jacob Ross, center, of Easthampton, goes to the puck against Alex Smith, of Northbridge, during the state Division 3A championship, Wednesday, March 13, 2019 at Hart Ice Center in Worcester. —STAFF PHOTO/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Jake Batchelder, center, of Easthampton, moves the puck ahead of Patrick Liddy, of Northbridge, during the state Division 3A championship, Wednesday, March 13, 2019 at Hart Ice Center in Worcester. —STAFF PHOTO/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Jake Batchelder, center, of Easthampton, passes against Nick Locurto, left, of Northbridge, during the state Division 3A championship, Wednesday, March 13, 2019 at Hart Ice Center in Worcester. Garren Fugiel, right, covers Thomas Dequire. —STAFF PHOTO/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Garren Fugiel, right, of Easthampton, looks for a shot while defended by Thomas Dequire, of Northbridge, during the state Division 3A championship, Wednesday. STAFF PHOTO/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Jake Delisle, top, of Easthampton, looks for a shot against Northbridge goalie Chris Wells as Alex Smith, front, and Evan Stone defend during the state Division 3A championship, Wednesday, March 13, 2019 at Hart Ice Center in Worcester. —STAFF PHOTO/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Jake Batchelder, right, of Easthampton, shoots against Evan Stone, of Northbridge, during the state Division 3A championship, Wednesday, March 13, 2019 at Hart Ice Center in Worcester. —STAFF PHOTO/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Garren Fugiel, center, of Easthampton, shoots between Northbridge defenders Ben Brodeur, left, and Nick Locurto during the state Division 3A championship, Wednesday, March 13, 2019 at Hart Ice Center in Worcester. —STAFF PHOTO/JERREY ROBERTS

  • CJ Tenczar, center, of Easthampton, moves the puck between Northbridge defenders Ben Brodeur, top, and Liam Gill during the state Division 3A championship, Wednesday, March 13, 2019 at Hart Ice Center in Worcester. —STAFF PHOTO/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Easthampton goalie Tyler Galpin can't stop a shot from Liam Gill, of Northbridge, during the state Division 3A championship, Wednesday, March 13, 2019 at Hart Ice Center in Worcester. The goal put Northbridge ahead 2-0 in the third period. —STAFF PHOTO/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Easthampton players Jacob Ross, left, and Tyler Cortis hug at the end of their 3-0 loss to Northbridge in the state Division 3A championship, Wednesday, March 13, 2019 at Hart Ice Center in Worcester. —STAFF PHOTO/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Jake Delisle, right, of Easthampton, goes to the puck against Liam Gill, of Northbridge, during the state Division 3A championship, Wednesday, March 13, 2019 at Hart Ice Center in Worcester. —STAFF PHOTO/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Tyler Galpin, right, of Easthampton, shoots against Patrick Liddy, of Northbridge, during the state Division 3A championship, Wednesday, March 13, 2019 at Hart Ice Center in Worcester. —STAFF PHOTO/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Easthampton goalie Tyler Cortis and teammates Tyler Galpin, from left, Ely Boyle and Byron Dudas endure the first goal of the game by Owen Hogan, left, of Northbridge, during the state Division 3A championship, Wednesday, March 13, 2019 at Hart Ice Center in Worcester. —STAFF PHOTO/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Easthampton goalie Tyler Cortis, center right, is swarmed by teammates Gabe Brodeur, from left, Mike McColgan, Jake Delisle, Ryan O’Connor and Tyler Darling at the end of their 3-0 loss to Northbridge in the state Division 3A championship, Wednesday at Hart Ice Center in Worcester. Visit gazettenet.com for more photos. STAFF PHOTO/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Easthampton players Garren Fugiel, from top, CJ Tenczar and Byron Dudas line up to receive medals at the close of their 3-0 loss to Northbridge in the state Division 3A championship, Wednesday, March 13, 2019 at Hart Ice Center in Worcester. —STAFF PHOTO/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Easthampton players Ely Boyle, from left, Mike McColgan, CJ Tenczar and Garren Fugiel hold their team's runner-up trophy after their 3-0 loss to Northbridge in the state Division 3A championship, Wednesday, March 13, 2019 at Hart Ice Center in Worcester. —STAFF PHOTO/JERREY ROBERTS

For the Gazette
Published: 3/14/2019 12:59:41 AM

WORCESTER — This was a tug-of-war between two teams that were a mirror image of one another, built on defense and goaltending.

Northbridge and Easthampton were locked in a scoreless struggled for 35 minutes, 24 seconds until Owen Henry broke the deadlock.

Liam Gill and Ryan Couture struck late in the final period and Northbridge claimed the state Division 3A hockey championship following a 3-0 victory over Easthampton, Wednesday at Holy Cross’ Hart Center.

Gill made it 2-0 with less than five minutes remaining before Couture closed the scoring with 22 seconds left.

Couture fought off a check from behind the net and centered to Henry, who was stationed at the lower edge of the right faceoff circle. Henry wasted no time and snapped a quick shot that eluded Eagles goalie Tyler Cortis for the game’s first goal.

“We had our power-play unit out there and it was the end of their shift,” Easthampton coach Bill Grise said. “They got caught.”

Cortis certainly deserved a better fate. The rock-steady sophomore kept the Eagles in the game with a number of outstanding saves.

Last season, Easthampton lost to Lunenburg in the state championship final at the MassMutual Center and the returning players came in hungry for their second shot at state supremacy.

But once again, the Eagles ran into a team that was just a bit faster and more physical. The Rams were able to use their staunch defense to limit the Eagles’ scoring chances.

“They only gave up three goals in their last three games, so I expected that,” Grise said. “We tried to create a few opportunities, but we just couldn’t get a bounce.”

Northbridge goalie Christopher Wells was outstanding, even though he did not face the volume of shots Cortis did.

“Tyler played like he’d been there before,” Grise said.

Easthampton’s Jake Batchelder broke a skate blade during the first period and was trapped in his own zone, unable to skate to the bench under his own power. Northbridge, though, failed to capitalize on the ensuing odd-man rush.

In an unselfish act that spoke volumes of the Eagles’ team-first attitude, Jacob Voudren took himself out of the game in order to let Batchelder play with his skates.

“That was a great gesture,” Grise said.

Cortis foiled Gill’s short-handed breakaway bid late in the second period and the Rams’ penalty kill kept Easthampton off the board.

Just when it appeared Northbridge had opened the scoring 2:22 into the second period, the Rams’ celebration was short-lived when the goal was nullified by the officials.

Then Couture fired a high drive from 20-feet out that Cortis stopped with his chest.

Northbridge dominated the first period, which was scoreless largely due to the effort of Cortis. The goalie rejected a breakaway bid by Gill midway through the period.

Easthampton will lose nine seniors.

“We have a good group and they all worked hard,” Grise said. “We came out a little flat in the first period, but I think we picked it up from there.”

This may be the last Division 3A state title game. The MIAA is considering eliminating it and lumping 3A teams into Division 3 for next season. Nothing is official yet.




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