Collaborative effort: Northampton, Hampshire Regional, Smith Vocational celebrate Easthampton’s Division 3A hockey title

  • Easthampton’s captains, left to right, Mikey McColgan, Dillan Wilson and Chris Tenczar, receive the championship trophy after Easthampton beat Belchertown, 5-2, in the Western Massachusetts Division 3A championship, Thursday at the Olympia Ice Center in West Springfield. Easthampton is a cooperative program that takes students from Hampshire Regional, Northampton and Smith Vocational. GAZETTE STAFF/CAROLINE O’CONNOR

For the Gazette
Published: 3/8/2018 10:24:50 PM

WEST SPRINGFIELD — The bond a team shares can either make or break a season. When athletes play as a team they can achieve greatness, and that’s exactly what the Easthampton hockey team did at the Olympia Ice Center against Belchertown in the Western Massachusetts Division 3A championship.

The Eagles made history Thursday when Easthampton defeated the Orioles, 5-2. It was the first championship for the cooperative program, which consists of athletes from Easthampton, Northampton, Smith Vocational and Hampshire Regional high schools.

“It’s different but I like it,” sophomore Garren Fugiel said. “It’s good and it’s fun and you get to meet new people from new schools.”

Fugiel, who had two goals and one assist against the Orioles, already knew some of his teammates from playing on travel teams. Fugiel is a student at Easthampton High School. Easthampton and Northampton make up the majority of the hockey team.

“In the beginning it’s kind of hard, but after two or three practices we all talk to each other and become really close friends,” Fugiel said.

With 23.1 seconds left in the first period, Belchertown tied the game at 1-1. In the beginning of the second period, momentum was on the Orioles’ side, but the Eagles held off multiple shots on goal and took a 2-1 lead with 7:23 left in the second after a goal from Ely Boyle.

“I think we all bond together good and we have good chemistry,” said Boyle, an Easthampton student.

Hampshire Regional student Jake Batchelder had one assist against Belchertown.

“I think at the beginning of the season it definitely is something that takes getting used to, but after a little bit it’s pretty much like we are all brothers,” Batchelder said.

Easthampton coach Bill Grise noticed the players’ bond get tighter as the season progressed.

“At some points you can definitely tell that the guys are from different schools, especially at practice,” Grise said. “We do a workout before practice and some of the guys will be talking about homework they have and classes together and the other guys have no idea what they are talking about because they aren’t even in the same building, but come game days it’s really about the hockey team, it’s not about anything else.”

The Eagles (12-3-7) have one more game left, the state championship. They will play the winner from the Central Mass. 3A tournament next week.

“It feels amazing,” Fugiel said. “I didn’t know we would get this far and I’m glad.”

The Central Mass. tournament is in the semifinal round. Grafton plays Northbridge and Lunenburg plays Worcester. Both games are Friday.

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