Thrilling 2OT Goal Send Bombers to 4th Straight WMass Final!
Bombers Face Off vs #1 Longmeadow Puck Drop Thur 3/7 8:30pm at The Olympia
Bombers Take Double Overtime Thriller from Minnechaug 5-4
The Westfield Bombers found a way to stay alive on Thursday night with a thrilling 5-4 double-overtime victory over the Minnechaug Falcons. This game had plenty of build up, and it showed with the large, loud crowd gathered to watch the contest. The Bombers left everything on the ice in getting by the bigger, more physical Falcons squad that had beaten and tied the Bombers this season. From the opening faceoff, this one had pace and intensity. The Falcons took the opening draw in for a 2 on 1 chance which was stopped by CJ Czarnecki, and the rebound was grabbed and sent back up ice to Scotty Bussell who was stoned on a glove save by Corbin Marini. Moments later, 'Chaug capitalized on a failed clearing attempt with Steve Mushenko putting them up 1-0, with all of this action taking place in the 1st minute!
Minnechaug was whistled for a penalty at the 3 minute mark, and Westfield tied to score when Gavin Carzello squirted one through Marini on a shot from the point. Each team had chances throughout the period and the score changed with 5:39 remaining when Minnechaug pumped another goal past Czarnecki taking a 2-1 lead after 1.
Westfield was opportunistic to open the 2nd stanza. The Falcons pinned Westfield in their own zone for basically the first 3 minutes, but on one clearing attempt, the puck scooted past a Minnechaug defenseman at the blue line. Scotty Bussell won the race to the puck picking it up on the boards at the Falcon blue line. He sped into the Falcon zone and floated a perfect saucer pass to a speeding Spencer Cloutier who was able to redirect it past Marini for the equalizer. Minnechaug was unfazed though. They continued to pressure the Bomber defense throughout the period and getting many scoring chances. They were able to finally cash in with just over 4 minutes remaining in the period when Steve Mushenko popped in his 2nd goal of the game on the power play. Minnechaug's 13-2 lead in shots on goal for the period showed that they'd taken over the game.
The 3rd period opened up with Westfield having more life, but they needed a break to tie the game up. With the Bombers buzzing in Minnechaug's zone, Gavin Carzello ended up with it at the point. He fired a quick slapshot which was blocked up high by a Minnechaug defender who fell to the ice injured. Kevin Hosmer grabbed the blocked shot and moved it to Matt Bacon who snapped one past the surprised Marini to tie the score. The Minnechaug bench and crowd felt there should've been a whistle due to the injured player, but the goal stood. With that early goal, Westfield was able to take the momentum for much of the middle part of the period. Carzello, who was in the middle of all of the action most of the game, found himself with the puck again at the point and fired a shot through a crowd that found the back of the net and the comeback was complete. The Bombers continued to control play until the 4 minute mark when a questionable slashing call was given to Carzello. Westfield had several chances to clear the puck during the ensuing power play but just didn't get it done until finally, 'Chaug defenseman Austin Kareta kept a clearing attempt in the Bomber zone and snapped a low laser through a crowd into the net for the game tieing power play goal with just over 2 minutes remaining. That's how regulation time ended.
Playoff overtime calls for a 6 minute period of 4 on 4 action, and if still tied, the 2nd overtime moves to 3 on 3 play. In the event things are still tied, there's a 5-man shootout. Both teams came out looking to end it quickly in the 1st OT. Play went back and forth with the boisterous crowd reacting to every check, shot and save. The moment of the game, however, came when Minnechaug got away on a 2 on 1 break coming into the Westfield zone. The left winger fired a low shot that Czarnecki padded away to the right side where a Falcon right winger retrieved it in stride. Without an angle to shoot the puck into the net, the winger deked right and went behind the net fooling Czarnecki. He then attempted to stuff the puck around the other side, and as he tried to score, Czarnecki miraculously dove back toward the crease extending his stick to keep the puck from crossing the goal line. Truly a miraculous save to keep the Bombers hopes alive. The first OT ended with plenty of action, but with no winner.
The game moved to the 2nd OT. Minnechaug controlled the puck but the trio of Cloutier, Kevin Hosmer and Liam Webster did a great job of playing man to man defense and keeping the Falcons to the outside without any shots. When the Bombers were finally able to make a change, Bussell, Moorhouse and Carzello were primed to end things. They pressured Minnechaug into multiple turnovers in the Falcon zone until finally; Moorhouse was able to win the race to a turnover on the right boards in the 'Chaug zone. He quickly wheeled and found an open Carzello coming through the high slot. Carzello shielded the puck from a diving Falcon defender passing the puck to an open Bussell lower in the slot who deked Marini and slid a backhand under him into the net to end the game. The Westfield student body and fans blew the roof off the place when the red light went off.
Westfield moves on to the WMass Finals to face heavily favored and #1 seed Longmeadow who defeated East Longmeadow earlier in the night 6-1. The Bombers have yet to score against the Lancers this season losing 4-0 and 1-0.
NOTES: Carzello was outstanding in this contest. He ended with 2 goals and an assist, had at least 6 or 7 shots on net, was a stalwart on defense and had some of the biggest hits of the night; Bussell, Cloutier, and Moorhouse wound up with 6 points as a line (2g,4a). The newly formed line had many chances and will need to turn those into goals if they want to extend the season further; Bussell showed toughness playing through an early shoulder injury and making a difference in the end; CJ Czarnecki was huge when it mattered last night making several sprawling saves to keep the Bombers alive.