Home / High School Hockey / Massachusetts / 2019 MIAA Playoffs / MIAA Division 3A State Final: Third Period Surge Lifts Northbridge To Championship

MIAA Division 3A State Final: Third Period Surge Lifts Northbridge To Championship

Northbridge won its first MIAA Division 3A state title Wednesday with a 3-0 win over Easthampton. (Fran Sypek photo)

Northbridge and Easthampton were locked in a scoreless struggle for 35 minutes, 24 seconds until Owen Hogan  broke the deadlock.

Hogan, Liam Gill and Nolan Brown scored third period goals and Northbridge claimed its first state Division 3A championship following a 3–0 victory over Easthampton Wednesday at Holy Cross’ Hart Center.

Gill made it 2-0 with less than five minutes remaining before Brown closed the scoring with 22 seconds left.

“We came from nothing,’’ Gill said. “I just love this team so much. We believed in ourselves and I can hardly speak right now.’’

Ryan Couture fought off a check from behind the net and centered to Hogan, who was stationed at the lower edge of the right faceoff circle. Hogan wasted no time and snapped a quick shot that eluded Tyler Cortis for the game’s first goal.

Cortis certainly deserved a better fate. The rock-steady sophomore kept the Eagles in the game with a number of outstanding saves.

Northbridge goalie Christopher Wells (20 saves)  was outstanding, even though he did not face the volume of shots Cortis did.

“Chris is the best goalie in Central Mass.,’’ said Gill, who played junior hockey last season.

Cortis foiled  Gill’s shorthanded breakaway bid late in the second period. Once again, the Rams penalty kill came up big.

Just when it appeared Northbridge had opened the scoring 2:22 into the second period, the Rams’ celebration was short-lived when the goal was negated  by the officials. Then Couture fired a high drive from 20-feet out that Cortis stopped with his chest.

Northbridge dominated the first period, which was scoreless, largely due to the effort of Cortis. The sophomore goalie rejected a breakaway bid by Gill midway through the period.

 Easthampton will lose nine seniors.

“We have a good group and they all worked hard,’’ coach Bill Grise said. “We came out a little flat in the first period, but I think we picked it up from there.’’

Fran Sypek

Fran Sypek

Fran has covered hockey at all levels, NHL, AHL, junior, college and high school for the Springfield Republican from 1978-2013. His column "Hockey Talk'' appeared in the Sunday Republican. The hockey beat took him from Maine to Arizona in the United States and from Newfoundland to Alberta in Canada. Fran was the recipient of the Matthew Ryan Award for Outstanding Coverage of High School Hockey and the Janet McCormick Award from the Springfield Olympics. He then shifted from pros to college when the University of Massachusetts restored its program and joined Hockey East. Later, he continued covering the Boston Bruins and the Springfield Falcons. Fran's covered future NHL players from Western Massachusetts in Paul Fenton, Bob Kudelski, Rick Bennett and Bill Guerin. He is a member of the Bessone Award committee, which helps select the top high school hockey player in Western Mass. Fran was a goalie for Holyoke Community College in 1973-74 and graduated from the University of Massachusetts in 1977. Fran is currently a free lance writer living in Bondsville, Mass and grew up in Chicopee, Mass, has visited all 50 states, and is an avid photographer.