H.S. Hockey: Breaking down matchup between Greenfield and Wahconah

  • Greenfield’s Jacob Bryant, right, celebrates a first period goal against South Hadley during the Div. 3A semifinal  on Feb. 29 at the Olympia Ice Center in West Springfield. STAFF PHOTO/DAN LITTLE

Staff Writer
Published: 3/3/2020 9:39:33 PM
Modified: 3/3/2020 9:39:26 PM

The Greenfield High School hockey team will fight for championship glory against Wahconah Regional Thursday night at Olympia Ice Center in West Springfield. 

The Wave are in pursuit of just their second-ever Division 3A championship. 

Several factors are in play during the Western Mass. championship: health, experience, playing surface and schematic adjustments. 

Health concerns

In short, there aren’t any for the Green Wave. 

Greenfield is fully healthy and ready to go heading into the championship game.

“From the injury standpoint, we have nothing to report,” Greenfield coach Adam Bouchard said. “That is very exciting.”

Defenseman Robert Harris missed the regular-season matchup with the Warriors, where the Wave fell 4-3 on Jan. 15.

Championship experience on the coaching staff

Two members of the coaching staff played or coached on the last two Greenfield Western Mass. finals teams.

Mike Duclos coached the team that won the Division 3A championship, while Tim Petrin played for the 1994 team that fell in the finals.

“Our program wouldn’t be where it is without the coaching staff that we have,” Bouchard said. “They bring great history and great experience.”

The message from Duclos was simple heading into the championship game on Thursday.

“Just trying to keep focused that it’s just another game,” Duclos said. “We have been there as players and been there as coaches.”

Duclos went on to say that the team needs to continue what is has done all season.  

“This the biggest game of your life but it’s not time to do crazy things. Just go out there and play like it’s game one,” Duclos said. “There is more on the line, they know that, but don’t get too high and just play the game and good things will happen.”

Game location

The regular-season matchup with the Warriors took place at the Boys & Girls Club of the Berkshires, which has a smaller surface than Olympia Ice Arena, according to Bouchard. 

“Playing at the Olympia is a little bigger ice surface,” he said. “We are really excited to use our speed and skill against their size and strength.”

The loss against the Warriors was a launching point for the rest of the season for the Green Wave. 

“We took that loss at Wahconah as a defining moment for what kind of team we were going to be at the end of the season,” Bouchard said.

View from the offense

The Warriors have a big defense, and a big goalie in Jake Risley.

Bryan Baumann led the Greenfield offense with 21 goals and 23 assists.

“They are a bigger team with size,” Baumann said of Wahconah. “They like to hit. But they are not the fastest team. We have to go to the outside and beat them wide. Speed is going to the most successful thing for us.” 

Baumann scored a pair of goals against the Warriors during the regular season. 

“We saw their lines,” Baumann said. “How they match up. What they match up with us.”

With Risley’s size in net, the Greenfield offense will keep scoring opportunities away from his glove and blocker.

“Just try to look for lower shots and rebounds,” Baumann said. “Make him move in the crease and find the open net.” 

View from the defense 

Defenseman Jacob Bryant and the Wave are ready for the Warriors’ offensive style. 

“They are a big strong team,” Bryant said. “They like to put the pucks in the corners and put bodies on it.”

The Green Wave had a few defensive breakdowns against the Warriors during the regular season that they will look to clean up, according to Bryant. 

“We were in their rink against their style of play,” Bryant said. “On the smaller ice, they trapped us in the corners. If it wasn’t for a couple breakdowns we would have come out on top.”

Greenfield has a plan against the size of Wahconah. 

“We are going to go out there on a bigger sheet of ice and use our all-around team speed to beat their big boys back there,” Bryant said. 

View from the goal

Riley Drew made 388 saves this season for the Green Wave and said he is fully prepared for Wahconah’s attack.

“They like to generate odd-man chances,” Drew said. “They don’t shoot a lot, but when they shoot, it’s quality chances. They tend to cycle it behind the net and look for back door and top of the slot for open shots.” 

With the Warriors creating offensive opportunities in the corners, Drew said handling the puck will be something he might focus on as an adjustment. 

“I am going to try to play the puck more behind the net,” Drew said. “That’s about it. I am just going to play my game like I have the last few games, and hopefully, we win.”

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