WHS upends Agawam, repeats

Members of the Westfield hockey team celebrate their win during last night's Western Massachusetts Division 3 tournament game against Agawam. Westfield went on to win 6-4. (Photo by Frederick Gore)

Members of the Westfield hockey team celebrate their win during last night’s Western Massachusetts Division 3 tournament game against Agawam. Westfield went on to win 6-4. (Photo by Frederick Gore)

WEST SPRINGFIELD – Why anyone would have pegged the Agawam High School boys’ ice hockey team as the overwhelming favorite to win the Western Massachusetts Division 3 championship is anyone’s guess.
The so-called underdogs, the Westfield Bombers, the tournament’s No. 2 seed, upended top-seeded Agawam in a D3 finals thriller, 6-4, Thursday night at the Olympia in West Springfield.
For the defending state champion Bombers, it was their ninth Western Massachusetts title in 13 years.
“We were coming in as the underdog, but we showed what we can do,” said Chris Sullivan, whose hat trick helped pave the way for Westfield.
Sullivan’s deflection on a Craig Lacey slapshot with 8:23 remaining held up as the eventual game-winner. He tacked on an open-netter, his third, in the waning seconds to seal the victory.
“Unbelievable,” he said.
Actually the Bombers made believers the longer the game went on.
Westfield committed the game’s first penalty, just 31 ticks into the opening period. The Bombers allowed just one shot – a weak one at that – on goal with just two ticks remaining on the power play, and, in fact, even managed to lay down a clean, viscous open-ice check.
It was a message that, no matter what, Westfield would not back down.
Once back at full strength, Agawam skated out to a quick 2-0 lead. Brownies’ Brian Scoville wristed a shot from behind the right circle into the upper right corner of the net between the Westfield goalie and the post 3:53 into the game. Two minutes, 20 seconds later, a scrum ensued out in front of the Bombers goal. Seamus Curran plucked it into the net.
Westfield rallied, scoring on Adam Hosmer’s shot from in tight in between the circles with 6:39 left in the period. Connor Sullivan and Mario Metallo assisted on the play.
The teams were deadlocked at nine shots apiece at the end of the first period.
It didn’t take long for Westfield to reset the game. Zane Collier tipped the puck ahead to Connor Sullivan, fueling a semi-breakaway with Agawam’s defensemen on their heels behind the play. Sullivan’s score came 1:30 into the middle frame.
Agawam reclaimed the lead in a heartbeat on a goal from John Colwell 70 seconds later. It was short-lived as Chris Sullivan recorded a wrap-around goal for Westfield with 9:17 remaining in the period.
With 5:17 left in the second period, Scoville netted his second goal with the assist of a screen from his fellow teammates. Two minutes, 11 seconds later, Mike Santinello punched in a breakaway effort with a defender on his hip to tie the game 4-all.
Westfield turned up the offensive pressure in the third period, and it paid off.
With 8:23 left in the final period, Chris Sullivan deflected a slap shot from Craig Lacey to take a 5-4 lead.
“It was a great shot from Craig,” Sullivan said. “There were bodies out front. I just tried to tip it in. Somehow the puck found its way in.”
Sullivan completed his hat trick with 40.3 seconds left in regulation, ensuring there would be no overtime with an open-netter from mid-ice.
“Talent-wise we don’t have the kind of talent we’ve had the last 2-3 years,” Westfield coach C.B. “Moose” Matthews said, “but these guys dug, and scrapped, and clawed … and never got down. They were always positive. That was the key.”
Westfield goalies Garrett Matthews and Matthew Blascak combined for 25 saves in net. The Bombers finished with 29 shots on goal.

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