SPRINGFIELD – Westfield goalie Cam Parent did everything but stand on his head to try and thwart the efforts of the undefeated Shrewsbury Colonials in the teams’ second meeting of the 2016-17 boys’ ice hockey season.
Unfortunately, the second time around, Central Mass champion Shrewsbury displayed sensational stick work and incredible speed to overcome traditional Western Massachusetts powerhouse Westfield Wednesday night in the Division 3 state semifinals at the MassMutual Center. The Bombers fell 5-0.
“We just couldn’t corral them,” Westfield coach C.B. “Moose” Matthews said. “They’ve come a long way … We just couldn’t catch them.”
The enormous speed differential paid off early for Shrewsbury (22-0-1).
Shrewsbury peppered Parent with nearly a half-dozen shots in the opening minutes of the game before junior forward Anthony Quinlivan used some fancy stick work to break free near the left circle before hammering home a goal on the team’s fifth shot 3 minutes, 15 seconds into the first period.
Despite falling behind early, Westfield (17-6) still clung to high hopes.
Westfield glimpsed a game-tying goal midway through the first period when Liam Whitman stole the puck near the Shrewsbury blue line. The Colonials quickly expelled those thoughts by skating in from out of nowhere to break up the play.
A short time later, Westfield had a power play opportunity but it was Shrewsbury who seized the moment. After clearing the puck from their own zone, senior forward Matt Ward scooped it up deep in the Bombers’ zone and dished off to Quinlivan, who completed the 4-on-5 shorthanded goal with 4:48 remaining in the first period for a 2-0 lead.
Simply put, the shot differential told the tale of the first period – Shrewsbury 14, Westfield 6.
Earlier in the season, Westfield lost to Shrewsbury, 2-1. In the rematch though, the Colonials matched their offensive output in just over 10 minutes.
“We played them early in the year,” coach Matthews said, “but they weren’t like this.”
Westfield attempted to get back into the game in the second.
Danny Antonellis nearly slammed in a rebound early for Westfield. Then, with three minutes remaining in the second period, Shrewsbury goalie Patrick Shaughnessy came out of net to thwart a breakaway, sending sticks and the puck skyward in an explosion. The Bombers also had a power play opportunity late in the period but came away empty.
Shrewsbury scored with 30.3 ticks left in the period when junior forward Jack Tepper flipped the puck into the upper corner of the net. The Colonials led 3-0.
“That was the backbreaker,” coach Matthews said of the last-second, second-period goal. “That one really hurt.”
Shrewsbury cruised from there.
Conall Persichino punched in a rebound for Shrewsbury with 10:29 left in regulation, and Colonials freshman forward Jim Tepper tapped in a rebound off a Jack Tepper backhander with 5:46 left before salting the final minutes away.
“We had a game plan, but couldn’t capitalize,” coach Matthews said.
Shaughnessy proved to be perfect in net, turning away 20 shots from Westfield. Parent, who was under attack by the Colonials for 45 long minutes, finished with 25 saves.
“He kept us in the game,” Matthews said of his goaltender.