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WMass D-3A hockey: Orioles earn another chance to take title

  • Belchertown junior forward Vaughn Gillen celebrates his second goal against Greenfield which put the Orioles up 4-0 in the second period of their 4-2 win over the Green Wave in a Western Massachusetts Division 3A semifinal at Olympia Ice Center in West Springfield last Saturday. For Greenfield, in background, are goalie Riley Drew, forward Doug Hanieski, top, and Jacob Bryant, right. STAFF PHOTO/KEVIN GUTTING

  • Belchertown junior forward Alexander Velez, lower left, pulls the puck clear of the Orioles' goal defended by junior defenseman Nathan Ayers, center, and junior goalie Ethan Rajpold in the second period of a 4-2 win over Greenfield in their Western Massachusetts Division 3A semifinal at Olympia Ice Center in West Springfield on Saturday, March 2, 2019. In pursuit, at upper left, is the Green Wave's Doug Hanieski. —STAFF PHOTO/KEVIN GUTTING

  • Belchertown junior forward Francis Nigro, center, drives between Mike McGoldrick, left, and Jacob Bryant of Greenfield in the third period of the Orioles' 4-2 win over the Green Wave in their Western Massachusetts Division 3A semifinal at Olympia Ice Center in West Springfield on Saturday, March 2, 2019. —STAFF PHOTO/KEVIN GUTTING

  • Belchertown junior forward Vaughn Gillen celebrates his second goal against Greenfield which put the Orioles up 4-0 in the second period of their 4-2 win over the Green Wave in a Western Massachusetts Division 3A semifinal at Olympia Ice Center in West Springfield on Saturday, March 2, 2019. For Greenfield, in background, are Jacob Bryant, center, and goalie Riley Drew. —STAFF PHOTO/KEVIN GUTTING

  • Belchertown junior forward Christopher Buffone, center, keeps the puck in play and away from Greenfield's Jacob Bryant, left, and goalie Riley Drew in the third period of the Orioles' 4-2 win over the Green Wave in their Western Massachusetts Division 3A semifinal at Olympia Ice Center in West Springfield on Saturday, March 2, 2019. —STAFF PHOTO/KEVIN GUTTING

  • Belchertown goalie Ethan Rajpold defends the net from Sean O'Sullivan, right, of Greenfield in the second period of the Orioles' 4-2 win over the Green Wave in their Western Massachusetts Division 3A semifinal at Olympia Ice Center in West Springfield on Saturday. Belchertown's Nathan Ayers is at far left, Doug Hanieski of Greenfield is behind the net. STAFF PHOTO/KEVIN GUTTING

  • Belchertown head coach Matt Crutch strategizes with his team during a time out in the third period of the Orioles' 4-2 win over Greenfield in a Western Massachusetts Division 3A semifinal at Olympia Ice Center in West Springfield on Saturday. STAFF PHOTO/KEVIN GUTTING

  • Belchertown junior forward Francis Nigro, left, is defended by Mike McGoldrick of Greenfield in the third period of the Orioles' 4-2 win over the Green Wave in their Western Massachusetts Division 3A semifinal at Olympia Ice Center in West Springfield on Saturday, March 2, 2019. —STAFF PHOTO/KEVIN GUTTING

  • Belchertown junior forward Vaughn Gillen knocks Bryan Baumann of Greenfield off his feet in the second period of the Orioles' 4-2 win over the Green Wave in their Western Massachusetts Division 3A semifinal at Olympia Ice Center in West Springfield on Saturday. STAFF PHOTO/KEVIN GUTTING



Staff Writer
Friday, March 08, 2019

WEST SPRINGFIELD – Vaughn Gillen did everything in his power to get the Belchertown hockey team to the Western Massachusetts Division 3A finals on Saturday.

He started with scoring two goals with an assist for the Orioles in a 4-2 win over Greenfield in the semifinals at Olympia Ice Arena.

But with Belchertown clinging to a two-goal lead in the the third period, the forward got grimy on the defensive end to help the seal the game.

Gillen dove to the ice to poke the puck out of the Orioles defensive zone by inches and blocked a straight on shot from the point during Greenfield’s final push.

“I will always sacrifice offense to help out on defense,” Gillen said. “No matter what the situation is.”

Gillen and the Orioles return to the championship game after losing last year against Easthampton.

“We already know what the environment is like,” Gillen said. “The nerves are out. We know what is expected. We will battle hard no matter what.”

Belchertown will gets its chance again for a championship on Thursday back at Olympia against Easthampton, which beat Amherst 6-2 in the other semifinal.

The Orioles have never won a 3A title, according to coach Matt Crutch.

“We held on,” Crutch said. “I was worried coming into this season coming in with a lot of younger guys. Not much senior leadership. The team has matured so much over the last three months that we have been here. It means a lot to them, it means a lot to the program and it means a lot to the school.”

The second-seeded Green Wave watched as the No. 3 Orioles jumped out to a 4-0 lead into the second period.

“We knew they wanted focus on Bryan Baumann and Jacob (Bryant),” Greenfield coach Adam Bouchard said. “They kept someone high in their defensive zone covering Jacob and not giving him time and space.”

Belchertown had a tie and a loss to the Green Wave during the regular season.

“They put their game plan together and executed it very well,” Bouchard said.

AurelPydych and Doug Hanieski played their final game for the Greenfield program.

“The last two years have been the best two years of hockey for me,” Hanieski said. “It’s just been so fun playing with those boys. Practice or games, every single day. We came up short.”

A flurry of penalties from the Orioles gave the Wave two power-play goals in the second period.

Baumann set up Sean O’Sullivan for a power-play goal with five minutes left in the second period.

O’Sullivan later scored again from Bryant to cut the Belchertown lead to 4-2 late second period.

Greenfield had several more shots on net throughout the remainder of the game but Belchertown keeper Ethan Rajpold was there with 25 saves.

“They slowed down the game with the lead,” Bouchard said. “Both years with the new program we have lost here in the semifinals As tough as it is to lose and not move on and get that last win of the year only one team can do it. I am really proud of what they have done. We are building roots to continue to grow this program.”

Riley Drew made 14 saves for Greenfield.

Belchertown found the net just under a minute into the game when Glenn Scott let go of a wrister just inside the blue line.

Belchertown followed up the goal with a flurry of shots and pressure on the Green Wave defense.

The pressure paid off for the Orioles when they scored again in front of the net.

Frances Nigro scored on a pass from behind the net by Gillen for Belchertown with 9:11 left in the first period.

The Green Wave then made the Orioles work on defense for a stretch before the end of the period.

With around six minutes to play in the first, Greenfield’s Mike McGoldrick broke up a potential 2-on-1 breakaway.

O’Sullivan had a nice run through the middle of the ice for the Wave, but Rajpold sent away an initial shot and then a rebound attempt.

McGoldrick had a good opportunity at the beginning of the second period on a wind up slapper from the blue line, but again Rajpold made the save.

Belchertown pushed the lead to 3-0 soon after when Gillen beat Drew in front of the net. Chris Buffone and Matt Pacheco assisted on the goal.

Greenfield got the game’s first power play in the second period when Belchertown’s Cody Lambert hip-checked Aiden Roache.

Roache remained on the ice for a minute before exciting the game.

Lambert received a major penalty for the hit in the neutral zone.

On the power play, a Bryant slap shot from the point challenged Rajpold but the Belchertown keeper buried the shot in his chest.

The shot was literally buried in Rajpol’s equipment leading to a stoppage to find the puck.

Gillen later scored for Belchertown short-handed used the back hand to beat Drew top shelf to make the score 4-0.

Lambert got throw out of the game in the second period with over eight minutes of penalty time with two additional penalties.

Greenfield’s comeback bid took a hit when a penalty with around eight minutes left gave Belchertown a power-play opportunity, eliminating time in the attacking zone.

Drew made three saves for Greenfield during the power play.