H.S. Hockey: Green Wave confident heading into title-game showdown with Wahconah

  • Greenfield’s Bryan Baumann, middle, shoots from his as South Hadley goalkeeper Anthony Cigal, right, dives out to deflect the shot in the third period during the Div. 3A semifinal Feb. 29 at the Olympia Ice Center in West Springfield. STAFF PHOTO/DAN LITTLE

  • Greenfield’s Sean O’Sullivan (20) fires a shot past South Hadley defender Cam Pete (19) in the second period during the Div. 3A semifinal Saturday afternoon at the Olympia Ice Center in West Springfield. STAFF PHOTO/DAN LITTLE

  • Greenfield’s Bryan Baumann reacts after a shot from Aidan Roche makes it past South Hadley keeper Anthony Cigal for the go-ahead goal in the third period 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 9:42:52 PM
Modified: 3/3/2020 9:42:46 PM

Taking on No. 3 Wahconah with a Western Mass. Division 3A title on the line, the Greenfield hockey team knows it needs to be prepared for the physicality the Warriors bring to the ice on Thursday night.

Wahconah was able to out-physical the Green Wave when the two teams met in January, leading to a 4-3 win in the Berkshires.

Now, No. 1 Greenfield is prepared for the style of play the Warriors bring to the ice, and the team is looking to use that experience to help bring home a sectional title for the first time since 2008. Puck drop at Olympia Ice Center in West Springfield is 5:30 p.m.

“They’re in the Western Mass. finals for a reason,” Green Wave coach Adam Bouchard said of Wahconah. “They have some big boys that like to hit and we expect them to be physical.” 

Since that loss to Wahconah, Greenfield (18-3) has been on a tear. The Green Wave are 11-1 since, the lone blemish a season-finale defeat at the hands of Div. 2 South powerhouse Whitman-Hanson.

As a result, Greenfield enters with confidence. The team feels it found its groove after the first loss to the Warriors (16-3-2), and they’re hoping to get revenge on Thursday. 

“I think it motivates you more in a mental way,” Green Wave senior forward Sean O’Sullivan said of the loss. “We know what we’re up against. We know it won't be easy. They’re a good hockey team. If we play our game, they’re very beatable. They’re a physical team so we’ll have to use our speed.” 

Senior Bryan Baumann has been the main catalyst for Greenfield all season, leading the team in goals (21) and assists (23). 

O’Sullivan is second on the team with 28 points, scoring 14 goals and dishing out 14 assists. Forward Aidan Roche has 17 points on the season while Kyle Barnes has 16 points.

Along the blue line, Jacob Bryant has 18 points and Mike McGoldrick has 13, as the Wave have no shortage of skill on their roster.

“We have talent,” O’Sullivan said. “If we combine it with hard work at the drop of the puck all the way to the buzzer, we’ll be in good shape.”

With a plethora of goal scorers, Greenfield never feels out of a game. That proved true in the semifinals against South Hadley. With the score tied 2-2 late in the third period, Bryant zipped a pass across the crease to Roche, who buried the shot to put the Wave ahead with 1:11 to go.

The goal proved to be the game-winner, giving Greenfield confidence it can find a way to put the puck in the net when the stakes go up.

“When we make mistakes and are down one,” forward Derek Lenois said, “we can get back up and keep going. It was tied on Saturday then we took the lead late.”

Keeping pace with a tough Wahconah squad won’t be easy. 

The Warriors are led on the back end by defenseman Owen Kroboth, who finished the regular season with 12 goals and 22 assists. At forward, Ryan LaPierre, Mike Cullett and Mason Alfonso all finished with over 20 points during the season, giving Wahconah plenty of threats to score any time they touch the puck.

In goal, Jake Risley has been a brick wall during Wahconah’s postseason run, allowing just two goals, and he came away with 35 saves against Amherst in the semifinals.

The talent on the roster has led the Warriors to wins in seven of their last eight games. Still, Greenfield feels confident in itself heading into the championship tilt. 

“They have one good line,” O’Sullivan said. “They have a decent goalie and a good defenseman. We feel confident. I think it’s a good thing. It’s not cockiness, just good confidence in ourselves.”

One of the reasons the Green Wave feel so confident is the job they’ve done on the defensive end this season. In goal, Riley Drew has six shutouts this season, five coming since the loss to the Warriors. 

It’s been 12 years since Greenfield raised a sectional banner, the only title in program history in 2008.

The team is welcoming the pressure that comes with playing in such a big game.

“There’s been a lot of good players in the past and they couldn’t win it,” Lenois said. “Hopefully we will be able to.” 

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