Hockey: Greenfield rolls past Southwick in Western Mass. Class C semifinals (PHOTOS)

By HANNAH BEVIS

Staff Writer

Published: 02-21-2023 8:36 PM

WEST SPRINGFIELD — The Greenfield hockey team’s Western Mass. Class C tournament game against Southwick was almost a carbon copy of their first two matchups.

The top-seeded Green Wave enjoyed a pair of 7-0 victories over the Rams during the regular season, and they did one better in the semifinals, rolling to an 8-0 victory on Tuesday afternoon at the Olympia Ice Center to punch a ticket to the sectional final.

Greenfield (15-5) will play No. 2 Taconic in the Class C championship on Saturday back at the Olympia (1:30 p.m.).

Most athletes hope to reach a Western Mass. title game just once in their career. For the Green Wave athletes, postseason success has become old hat. When asked if he was nervous going into Tuesday’s game, senior Matt Lavoine answered easily – “Not really.”

“We’ve been in this kind of situation before. We’ve been in playoffs every year since I’ve been here. So it’s kind of normal,” Lavoine said.

That wasn’t always the case for the Green Wave – in the 2016-17 season, Greenfield managed just a single victory. But head coach Adam Bouchard and his staff have helped create a program with sustained success, and this batch of seniors are one of the first classes that have only ever known the Green Wave’s winning ways.

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“When you’re looking at that from the depth perspective, the seniors... they were freshmen that 2019-20 season, and they’ve had that experience and they’ve been able to teach that experience and explain to their underclassmen exactly what it takes to play in the playoffs,” Bouchard said. “When you get to playoffs, it’s a whole new season… Having that experience of our senior class coming through it for the last handful of years has certainly helped, and now we have some experience for our freshmen as well.”

It’s a bit of a full circle moment for Bouchard and his senior class. The victory against Southwick set them up for a championship game against No. 2 Taconic. Four years ago, Greenfield faced off against that same team (then playing as Wahconah; Taconic, Pittsfield and Wahconah regularly rotate which school hosts the co-op) for the Western Mass. title, and won the game in overtime. That win propelled them to their first state championship in program history.

Things are slightly different now – Western Mass. is no longer the path to the state tournament; Greenfield will wrap up its sectional run and then gear up for the MIAA Division 4 tournament.

“Right now we’re not even thinking about states, we want to raise the Western Mass. banner to start off. It’s gonna be nice rematch for the 2019-2020 Western Mass. championship when Taconic was the Wahconah Warriors,” Bouchard said. “It’s going to be a great rematch. We haven’t seen each other this season. So it’s going to be a great way for us to see each other for the first time.”

Greenfield scored most of its eight goals in bunches against Southwick. The club started early in the game when Jamison Baleno carried the puck behind the net and sent a pass threw the slot to Lavoine, who tapped the puck past Southwick goalie Josh Masse just over a minute into the frame.

Ninety seconds later, Jake Jurek doubled the Green Wave’s lead, and Hunter Smith tacked on a third goal near the end of the period to give the No. 1 seed a 3-0 lead heading into the first intermission.

Baleno and Derek Wissman scored in the second period to pad Greenfield’s lead, and Lavoine rattled off three more goals to cap off the eight-goal win. Greenfield’s Joshua Bordeaux made 15 saves to earn the victory, his third in three games against fourth-seeded Southwick this season.

“We just trust   ed in the same game plan that has been working for us throughout the year and executed it,” Baleno said.

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