Bombers Boston Bound!

Westfield’s Connor Sullivan slaps the puck into the Wachusett net during the state D3 semifinal at Fitchburg State University Thursday night. (Photo by chief photographer Frederick Gore)

FITCHBURG – There is a tea party scheduled to take place in Boston late this weekend, and it appears there is one local favorite set to drink from the championship cup.
The Westfield High School hockey team overthrew Wachusett Thursday 6-4 in the state semifinal Thursday night. The Bombers, who skated out to a 5-0 lead, held off the hard-charging Mountaineers to earn a trip to the finals at TD Garden Sunday.
“We got the goals we needed,” Westfield coach C.B. “Moose” Matthews said.
Red-hot Westfield forward Sean Spohr tallied the team’s first two goals, setting off an offensive barrage.
As Wachusett attempted to get the puck out of the zone late in the first period, Westfield’s Adam Collier plucked it up before the Mountaineers could clear it and streamed a pass across the ice to a wide-open Spohr. Spohr backhanded the puck in between the post and goalie Jake Strasser with 2:22 remaining in the period.
Spohr’s shot sparked an offensive explosion for the Bombers.
Westfield (17-2-2) scored three times during a 2 minute, 8 second span early in the second period to take control of the game.
Spohr netted the first goal on a 2-on-1 breakaway, keeping it himself and scoring 28 seconds into the second period.
“He’s been on a mission for the last year-and-a-half,” coach Matthews said of Spohr. “He puts us ahead; he gets us the big goals and makes the tide turn.”
Chris Gentile and Collier followed with goals about a minute apart of each other to give Westfield a 4-0 lead. The Bombers notched another goal when Connor Sullivan struck with 3:52 left in the period.
“That was the key – to get in (Wachusett goalie Jack Strasser’s) face,” Matthews said. “We took the momentum right away from them.”
The offensive surge was nothing new for Westfield – the Bombers’ offense sizzled in the Western Massachusetts championship, burning East Longmeadow for three goals in a 2 minute, 11 second span en route to a 7-0 victory.
But the third period of the state semifinals featured a bit more firepower from the opposition in this postseason game.
Wachusett finally got on the board 35 seconds into the final frame when Colin Bennie scored on a rebound. A little more than a minute later, Mike Santinello helped Westfield reclaim a five-goal lead with a goal.
The Moutaineers continued the steady climb upward, scoring goals with 6:08 on the third-period clock (Connor Bernard’s power play), 4:34 remaining (a Bennie goal), and 48.1 left (Jack Watkins) with the goalie pulled.
“We knew they were a good team,” coach Matthews said. “They threw their big line at us every other shift at the end. We didn’t have legs, but we survived.”
Wachusett had a 2-on-breakaway in the opening minutes of the first period and attempted a tip-in late in the period but Westfield goalie Nick Liberto (18 saves) made the key save. The Bombers had multiple breakaways in the opening period – 3 on 2s, 2-on1s – but failed to connect.
It was quite the opposite at the end.

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