Stories that linger: A year’s worth of championship fever

  • UMass forward Bobby Trivigno celebrates his goal against Denver during the first period in a semifinal of the Frozen Four, April 11 in Buffalo, N.Y. AP

  • UMass celebrates a 4-3 overtime victory over Denver in the semifinals of the Frozen Four, April 11 in Buffalo, N.Y. AP

  • UMass forward John Leonard shouts in celebration after scoring against Denver in NCAA Frozen Four semifinals, April 11 at the KeyBank Center, Buffalo, N.Y. FOR THE GAZETTE/CAROLINE O’CONNOR

  • UMass celebrates a 4-3 overtime victory over Denver in the semifinals of the Frozen Four, April 11 in Buffalo, N.Y. AP

  • Belchertown freshman forward Ethan Czaporowski, center, and his Orioles teammates celebrate his goal in the 94th minute to defeat Medway, 1-0, in the Division 3 State Championship at Foley Stadium in Worcester on Nov. 23. STAFF PHOTO/KEVIN GUTTING

  • Members of the South Hadley girls soccer team celebrate after shutting out Stoneham, 3-0, to win the state Division 3 championship in Worcester, on Nov. 23. FOR THE GAZETTE/Christopher Evans

  • Jack Nagy, of Amherst Regional, and other players, get ready for their game against Swampscott during the state Division 5 Super Bowl, Saturday, Dec. 7, 2019 at Gillette Stadium. STAFF PHOTO/JERREY ROBERTS

Sports Editor
Published: 12/30/2019 5:44:59 PM

In this selection of essays, Gazette editors reflect on stories from our pages this year that hold lasting significance for them. This is not a “top stories” compendium. Rather, editors chose to highlight the so-called first rough drafts of history that helped define 2019. What are the stories that have stayed with you? Write to us at opinion@gazettenet.com.

Sports seasons are measured by championships and championship runs, and 2019 had plenty of both.

The UMass hockey team owned the first 3½ months of the year. The Minutemen had the Mullins Center rocking as they routinely took down mainstays of the Hockey East Conference.

Leading the way was an NHL-caliber blue line of sophomore defensemen, Cale Makar and Mario Ferraro.

Behind the defense, the Minutemen made history by winning the Hockey East regular season title for the first time. Their season culminated with a trip to the Frozen Four in Buffalo, New York. There, Makar won the Hobey Baker Award as the nation’s top player and UMass skated into the national championship.

Despite their best efforts, the Minutemen fell 3-0 to Minnesota Duluth.

But the cheers didn’t stop in Buffalo. Fans followed Makar as he joined the Colorado Avalanche for their Stanley Cup playoff run.

When the college hockey season started, the Minutemen raised banners for their Hockey East title and national runner-up finish. Later in the season, the program welcomed Makar back and the school hoisted a Hobey Baker banner in Makar’s honor.

While the Minutemen’s story carried on, the year started and ended with many high school teams reaching the ultimate destination.

Both the Hopkins Academy and Northampton girls basketball team finished runner-up in the state, as did the Easthampton hockey team.

This past fall, the South Hadley girls soccer team, Belchertown boys soccer team and Frontier Regional girls volleyball team each claimed state championships.

The Amherst Regional football team closed the fall season with a historic run to the state final.

The Hurricanes had their first undefeated regular season since 1959. They beat West Springfield to win the Western Massachusetts Division 5 championship, then beat Northbridge to reach the state Super Bowl.

They ran into a roadblock called Swampscott, but the Hurricanes walked off the Gillette Stadium field earlier this month proud of what they had accomplished.


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