Easthampton claims second straight WMass Division 3A hockey championship

  • The Easthampton High School hockey team celebrates their 5-2 win against Belchertown in the Western Massachusetts Division 3A championship, Thursday, March 7, 2019 at Olympia Ice Center in West Springfield. —STAFF PHOTO/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Belchertown fan Ryan Donahue cheers for his team as they are introduced during the Western Massachusetts Division 3A championship, Thursday, March 7, 2019 at Olympia Ice Center in West Springfield. #13 is painted on his cheek in remembrance of classmate and hockey team player Brendan Conroy, who was killed in a car accident on Tuesday. —STAFF PHOTO/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Belchertown High School students take a moment of silence for classmate Brendan Conroy, who was killed in a car accident Tuesday, at the start of the Western Massachusetts Division 3A championship, Thursday at Olympia Ice Center in West Springfield. STAFF PHOTO/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Garren Fugiel, left, of Easthampton, and Cody Lambert, of Belchertown, go to the puck during the Western Massachusetts Division 3A championship, Thursday, March 7, 2019 at Olympia Ice Center in West Springfield. —STAFF PHOTO/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Byron Dudas, front, of Easthampton, celebrates his goal against Belchertown with Jake Delisle, left, and Jake Batchelder during the Western Massachusetts Division 3A championship, Thursday, March 7, 2019 at Olympia Ice Center in West Springfield. —STAFF PHOTO/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Easthampton goalie Tyler Cortis reaches for a shot from Belchertown during the Western Massachusetts Division 3A championship, Thursday. STAFF PHOTO/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Justin Pendrick, left, of Belchertown, shoots as Jacob Ross, of Easthampton, approaches during the Western Massachusetts Division 3A championship, Thursday, March 7, 2019 at Olympia Ice Center in West Springfield. —STAFF PHOTO/JERREY ROBERTS

  • CJ Tenczar, front right, of Easthampton, scores on Belchertown goalie Ethan Rajpold during the Western Massachusetts Division 3A championship, Thursday, March 7, 2019 at Olympia Ice Center in West Springfield. —STAFF PHOTO/JERREY ROBERTS

  • CJ Tenczar, right, of Easthampton, scores on Belchertown goalie Ethan Rajpold during the Western Massachusetts Division 3A championship, Thursday, March 7, 2019 at Olympia Ice Center in West Springfield. —STAFF PHOTO/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Andre Fijal, left, of Belchertown, checks Jacob Ross, of Easthampton, into the boards during the Western Massachusetts Division 3A championship. STAFF PHOTO/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Byron Dudas, right, of Easthampton passes against Andre Fijal, of Belchertown, during the Western Massachusetts Division 3A championship, Thursday, March 7, 2019 at Olympia Ice Center in West Springfield. —STAFF PHOTO/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Easthampton goalie Tyler Cortis, right, of Easthampton, defends a shot from Christopher Buffone, center, of Belchertown, during the Western Massachusetts Division 3A championship, Thursday, March 7, 2019 at Olympia Ice Center in West Springfield. Also defending are Byron Dudas, top, and Tyler Galpin. —STAFF PHOTO/JERREY ROBERTS

  • CJ Tenczar, top left, of Easthampton, scores on Beclehrtown goalie Ethan Rajpold during the Western Massachusetts Division 3A championship, Thursday at Olympia Ice Center in West Springfield. Visit gazettenet.com for more photos. STAFF PHOTO/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Mike McColgan, right, of Easthampton, is upended as teammate Tyler Galpin and Matthew Pacheco, of Belchertown vie for the puck during the Western Massachusetts Division 3A championship, Thursday, March 7, 2019 at Olympia Ice Center in West Springfield. —STAFF PHOTO/JERREY ROBERTS

  • CJ Tenczar, top left, of Easthampton, scores on Beclehrtown goalie Ethan Rajpold during the Western Massachusetts Division 3A championship, Thursday, March 7, 2019 at Olympia Ice Center in West Springfield. —STAFF PHOTO/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Cody Lambert, center, of Belchertown, moves the puck beside Easthampton defenders Ely Boyle, top, and Garren Fugiel during the Western Massachusetts Division 3A championship, Thursday, March 7, 2019 at Olympia Ice Center in West Springfield. —STAFF PHOTO/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Garren Fugiel, top, of Easthampton, celebrates his goal against Belchertown with Jake Batchelder, front, during the Western Massachusetts Division 3A championship, Thursday at Olympia Ice Center in West Springfield. Visit gazettenet.com for more photos. STAFF PHOTO/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Mike McColgan, top, of Easthampton, shoots against Belchertown goalie Ethan Rajpold during the Western Massachusetts Division 3A championship, Thursday, March 7, 2019 at Olympia Ice Center in West Springfield. —STAFF PHOTO/JERREY ROBERTS

  • CJ Tenczar, left, celebrates his second goal against Belchertown with his teammates during the Western Massachusetts Division 3A championship, Thursday at Olympia Ice Center in West Springfield. STAFF PHOTO/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Vaughn Gillen, top left, of Belchertown, checks Byron Dudas, of Easthampton, as teammate Francis Nigro moves the puck against Ely Boyle during the Western Massachusetts Division 3A championship, Thursday, March 7, 2019 at Olympia Ice Center in West Springfield. —STAFF PHOTO/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Easthampton players Jake Batchelder, left, and CJ Tenczar celebrate with their trophy after defeating Belchertown in Western Massachusetts Division 3A championship, Thursday, March 7, 2019 at Olympia Ice Center in West Springfield. —STAFF PHOTO/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Mike McColgan, right, of Easthampton, moves the puck against Andrew Mugford, of Belchertown, during the Western Massachusetts Division 3A championship, Thursday, March 7, 2019 at Olympia Ice Center in West Springfield. —STAFF PHOTO/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Easthampton players Jake Delisle, from left, CJ Tenczar, Garren Fugiel and Jake Batchelder celebrate Fugiel's goal against Belchertown during the Western Massachusetts Division 3A championship, Thursday, March 7, 2019 at Olympia Ice Center in West Springfield. —STAFF PHOTO/JERREY ROBERTS

  • CJ Tenczar, top, of Easthampton, watches his shot against Belchertown goalie Ethan Rajpold, while defended by Cody Lambert, during the Western Massachusetts Division 3A championship, Thursday, March 7, 2019 at Olympia Ice Center in West Springfield. —STAFF PHOTO/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Jacob Ross, right, shoots against Cody Lambert, of Belchertown, during the Western Massachusetts Division 3A championship, Thursday, March 7, 2019 at Olympia Ice Center in West Springfield. —STAFF PHOTO/JERREY ROBERTS

  • The Easthampton team celebrates with their trophy after defeating Belchertown inhe Western Massachusetts Division 3A championship, Thursday, March 7, 2019 at Olympia Ice Center in West Springfield. —STAFF PHOTO/JERREY ROBERTS

  • The Easthampton team celebrates with their trophy after defeating Belchertown inhe Western Massachusetts Division 3A championship, Thursday, March 7, 2019 at Olympia Ice Center in West Springfield. —STAFF PHOTO/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Cody Lambert, left, of Belchertown and Ely Boyle, of Easthampton, go to the puck during the Western Massachusetts Division 3A championship, Thursday, March 7, 2019 at Olympia Ice Center in West Springfield. —STAFF PHOTO/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Jake Batchelder, right, of Easthampton, smiles as he approaches a unattended goal in the final seconds of his team's 5-2 win against Belchertown during the Western Massachusetts Division 3A championship, Thursday, March 7, 2019 at Olympia Ice Center in West Springfield. —STAFF PHOTO/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Garren Fugiel, right, of Easthampton, shoots against Andre Fijal, of Belchertown, during the Western Massachusetts Division 3A championship, Thursday, March 7, 2019 at Olympia Ice Center in West Springfield. —STAFF PHOTO/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Jake Batchelder, of Easthampton, celebrates after scoring in the final second of his team's 5-2 win against Belchertown during the Western Massachusetts Division 3A championship, Thursday, March 7, 2019 at Olympia Ice Center in West Springfield. —STAFF PHOTO/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Jake Batchelder, right, of Easthampton, celebrates his goal against Belchertown with CJ Tenczar during the Western Massachusetts Division 3A championship, Thursday, March 7, 2019 at Olympia Ice Center in West Springfield. —STAFF PHOTO/JERREY ROBERTS

Staff Writer
Published: 3/7/2019 11:58:17 PM

WEST SPRINGFIELD — Byron Dudas sat in the stands a year ago and watched the Easthampton hockey team win the Western Massachusetts Division 3A championship.

The then-junior at Hampshire Regional was playing for the Chiefs, a junior program in Connecticut. But Dudas wanted a change and joined the Eagles cooperative program for his senior year.

Scoring goals is never an option for the defenseman, who had yet to score on the season entering Thursday’s 3A championship against Belchertown at the Olympia Ice Center.

“I’m a defensive defenseman,” Dudas said. “Defense is the first thing on my mind.”

In a scoreless game it was Dudas who broke the ice, not Easthampton’s pair of 100-point forwards in CJ Tenczar and Garren Fugiel.

Dudas’ tally sparked Easthampton to a 5-2 victory over the Orioles and a second straight championship.

“That was awesome,” Tenczar said. “He needed to get one at one point in the season. We got that power-play goal and it was game on from there.”

Dudas gathered a cross-ice pass from Tenczar and had an angle for a split second on Belchertown goalie Ethan Rajpold. Dudas slid the puck in front to Jake Batchelder, but a Belchertown defenseman crashing down kicked the puck past Rajpold for Dudas’ first career goal.

“It felt (expletive) great,” Dudas said with a wide grin. “It felt really great. It got the guys going.”

The Eagles (13-7-3) will play the winner of Sunday’s Central Mass. 3A final between Northbridge (15-6-1) and Lunenburg (14-7-1). The state final will be held next week at a date, time and place to be determined.

“It was great to see that we could come out these last three games and put the pieces together with all the things we’ve been working on all year,” Eagles coach Bill Grise said.

While fifth-seeded Easthampton celebrated it championship, the No. 3 Orioles consoled each other. It was an emotional game for Belchertown, which played just two days following the death of senior and former Oriole Brendan Conroy.

Conroy’s family was in attendance and his father Joseph was the first person to great the players as they exited the rink after the loss.

“It was very emotional for the team,” Belchertown coach Matt Crutch said.

Dudas’ goal sparked the Eagles and tempered any energy the Orioles started with. Belchertown skated onto the ice with Conroy’s jerseys and hung them behind the bench. Every Belchertown player had a sticker with Conroy’s No. 13 on the top. Meanwhile, the Belchertown student section filled the upper half of the balcony and stood the entire game.

But the Eagles made it 2-0 with 4:40 to go in the first to take control. The play developed behind the net where Matt Sullivan found Tenczar in front.

Tenczar made it 3-0 with 9:39 left in the second period. Batchelder broke in but a defenseman pushed him wide. He managed to get the puck around the net as Rajpold (21 saves) dove and extended his stick to keep it out.

Tenczar was alone on the back side and netted it high.

“Batchy worked hard for it,” Tenczar said. “He took the defenseman wide and went around the net. I just happened to be in the right place and popped it in.”

Just over a minute later, Garren Fugiel (assist) made it 4-0.

“We were concerned about the way this game could have gone from the start,” Crutch said. “With the whole week, it looked like the boys were pretty worn out by the time the puck dropped today. A lot of emotions going through them. It wasn’t easy.”

Belchertown had a chance to get on the board with 5:40 left in the second, but Chris Buffone hit the post.

“They call it puck luck and we didn’t have any puck luck tonight,” Crutch said. “We didn’t get really any bounces and that’s kind of attributed to the guys just being worn down. We always say good bounces go to teams that work hard and it wasn’t that we weren’t working hard, I just think we were really exhausted tonight.”

The game opened up in the third and Belchertown took advantage.

A turnover at the net led to Vaughn Gillen’s first goal with 11:24 to go.

Five minutes later Gillen struck again as Belchertown made it interesting.

“They came out and played hard for 45 minutes,” Grise said of Belchertown.

The Orioles played the final 2:18 with an empty net. After several long attempts went wide, a clearing pass was missed at the blue line and Batchelder (two assists) skated in alone and scored with 0.4 seconds left.

As soon as the puck hit the ice on the ensuing faceoff, the Eagles bench erupted and the players charged goalie Tyler Cortis (26 saves).

With sticks, gloves and helmets strewn about the ice, the Eagles, who have players from Hampshire Regional, Northampton and Smith Vocational, celebrated their title.

“We had a rough start to the season,” Tenczar said. “It wasn’t how we planned it, but we came together in the end. It feels amazing.”

Belchertown graduates three seniors: Andrew Mugford, and brothers Justin and Brian Pendrick.

“Brian Pendrick and Justin Pendrick, those kids worked their asses off,” Crutch said. “Andrew Mugford is a great guy. He’ll be missed as a defenseman. They left the program in a good situation.”




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