S. Hadley blanks STM, 5-0

St. Mary’s Jake Neilsen, left, battles South Hadley’s Tom Crotty. (Photo by chief photographer Frederick Gore)

HOLYOKE – Superman met kryptonite again.
The St. Mary High School hockey team ran into its arch-rival, South Hadley (formerly Holyoke), and again fell, losing to the Terriers (Purple Knights), 5-0, in a Division 3A season opener Saturday at Fitzpatrick Arena.
Four different players scored for South Hadley – Joe Whalen, Evan Sullivan, Alec Plotnikeiwicz, and Beau Kass (two late goals) – which remained unbeaten against St. Mary in the history of the program. The closest effort was a tie forged by the Saints last season.
“We were tired,” said St. Mary coach Mike Goodreau, who skated just 13 players compared to 20 for their nemesis, the defending D3A champion Terriers. “With a couple bounces though, it could have been a lot better for us.”
St. Mary had a golden opportunity early as Zach Slepchuk muscled past a defenseman near the boards, setting up a shot and rebound, and creating a chance for a backhander, but South Hadley goalie Devin Hoagland (10 saves) turned away each effort.
The Saints also had the first power play chance, and Charles White had two shots – one in the crease, and another which unleashed a brief, furious flurry on the net – but Hoagland thwarted every offensive burst.
South Hadley broke through when Whalen slipped the puck into the slimmest of openings between St. Mary goalie Zach Brown and the post with 8:39 remaining in the first period. Sullivan scored the Terriers’ second goal, flipping the puck past Brown with 3:18 left in the period.
Plotnikiewicz and Beau tacked on two more goals in the second period – at the 13:41 and 9:38 marks – to effectively pull away.
Beau scored another goal midway through the third.
“Zach kept us in the game,” coach Goodreau said of his senior goaltender, who finished with 16 saves. “He got down a little bit, but stuck in there.”
If anything, Goodreau said, it was his team’s power play offense which showed it needs improvement. St. Mary’s had 5-on-4 and 5-on-3 power play opportunities in the second period, but failed to score. The Saints even pulled its goalie with five seconds to go in the middle frame for the unconventional 6-on-3 power play (very briefly), and still came away empty.
South Hadley started the third period with two players in the penalty box. Still, it was a minor obstacle the Terriers overcame with ease.

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