Western Mass. Top 10: Tight at the top

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.

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Western Mass. Top 10 Poll

RankTeam[tooltip text="PR*" gravity="ne"]Previous Ranking[/tooltip]WLT
1Longmeadow1520
2Minnechaug2420
3East Longmeadow5420
4WestfieldNR240
5Agawam7250
6Amherst3401
7Chicopee Comp.NR610
8WahconahNR400
9Chicopee9410
10South Hadley10431

Going into the season, Western Mass. Division 3 finalists Agawam and Westfield looked like the teams to beat. But nobody told that to Longmeadow.

Despite a bump in the road with a one-sided loss to rival No. 3 East Longmeadow, No. 1 Longmeadow has emerged as the team to beat in Western Mass. The Lancers feature a balanced scoring attack, strong defense and good goaltending. Senior captain Michael Tabb had a four-assist game  against No. 4 Westfield.

No. 2 Minnechaug is a team on the rise. The Falcons stepped up with a comeback 3-2 win over East Longmeadow. Luke Cranston had two goals for the Falcons in that game. Freshman goalie Alek Vanderleeden has been outstanding.

Reigning champion No. 5 Agawam is presently struggling The Brownies dropped games to Central Mass. powers Shrewsbury and North Middlesex, but what really stung was a 2-1 loss to a sub-.500 Ludlow team.

No. 6 Amherst has yet to feel the loss of standout defenseman Jordan Tetreault, who is now playing for the Boston Junior Bruins. The Hurricanes have thrived under second-year coach Mike Rousseau, a former assistant at Cathedral (now Pope Francis). Amherst beat Chicopee Comp, 4-3 in a rematch of last season’s Division 3A semifinal. Amherst got two goals each from Jake Balderston and Nate Masteralexis.

No. 7 Chicopee Comp has been led by its one-two scoring punch of Jeremy Lewis and Cam Kagan.

No. 8. Wahconah still may lack depth, but the Warriors are off to another great start.

No. 9 Chicopee, has been led by John Baker, who had a hat trick in an 8-7 loss to rival Chicopee Comp. Jon Santos has been solid in goal for the Pacers.

No. 10 South Hadley saw Evan Sullivan recently record his 100th career point. The Tigers are looking to have a bounce-back season after not qualifying for the tournament last season. Jake Remillard has been solid in goal.

HIGHLIGHTS

Connor McAnanama Agawam
Connor McAnanama
Agawam

Freshman Jonathan Tavella scored three goals as East Longmeadow stunned Longmeadow, 8-2. Freshman goalie Trystin Lee (21 saves) made his first varsity start a memorable one with several outstanding saves.

Ben Wosky E. Longmeadow
Ben Wosky
E. Longmeadow

Jeremy Lewis, who has recorded four hat tricks in a row, scored three goals and added an assist in Chicopee Comp’s 7-0 triumph over St. Mary. Kyle Vezina celebrated his first varsity game with a 25-save shutout.

Connor McAnanama made 41 saves as Agawam rebounded from some tough losses with 3-1 victory over Westfield.

Ben Wosky recorded his 100th career point in East Longmeadow’s 7-1 triumph over Ludlow. Wosky had two goals and three assists in the game. He has 50 goals and 52 assists for his career.

Jake Corcoran had a hat trick as Mount Everett hockey tied Turners Falls, 4-4. Brendan Dempsey added a goal and assist for Mount Everett. Cullen Wozniak scored a pair of goals for Turners Falls.

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