By Michael James LeClair
Here’s a frightening thought for any team that has to lace up the skates against the Nashoba Regional ice hockey team. This year’s squad is on pace to top last winter’s Massachusetts Division 3A state championship edition.
The dangerously talented Chieftains continued their torment of Central Mass on Saturday evening as the team rolled to another victory, defeating visiting Lunenburg/Ayer-Shirley Regional by a score of 3-0.
When the final buzzer sounded and the Chieftains skated off the New England Sports Center ice they had improved their overall record to a sparkling 14-1 and 9-0 on the Coughlin Conference. Last winter, on their way to the program’s first state championship, Nashoba finished the regular season with a 14-6 record before winning their three playoff games en route to the title.
“I thought Lunenburg played a good game today; they had a trap system going in the neutral zone and we were a little slow coming through. We just weren’t crisp offensively,” said Nashoba head coach Trevor Short. “Overall, I thought we played a decent game. Our top forwards were held in check but at the end of the day it’s a 3-0 win.”
Nashoba has won seven straight games since tasting defeat for the only time this season back on Jan. 2 against North Middlesex Regional. The Chieftains have five remaining regular season contests following Saturday’s win over the Blue Knights. Nashoba returned to action on Monday afternoon against visiting Hopedale/Millis.
“We put the puck in the net,” said Short when asked what the key to his team’s strong play has been. “We’ve scored close to 90 goals this season and have given up less than 20. That’s been key. We have a system that we run and its been very successful.”
With the loss the Blue Knights dip to 2-13 overall and 2-7 in the league.
Nashoba potted single goals in each period as Bryce Chaput and Devyn Barrett led the offensive attack as each registered two-point nights with a goal and assist. Teammate Dean Anastas added a goal to the Nashoba cause and net minder Charlie Lamplough made 21 saves to preserve the shutout.
At the other end of the ice, Lunenburg goaltender Nate Bourdelais was solid between the pipes as he made 29 saves on 32 shots.
“If teams want to trap us that’s fine, but they have to know it’s going to be really tough to score on our goaltender as you could see tonight. Charlie didn’t have a lot of pressure on him and we took some chances when we had to,” said Short. “I don’t care if we win 10-0 or 3-0, a win is a win and we keep the train rolling.”
The win also completes the season sweep for the Chieftains over their league rival Blue Knights. Nashoba has outscored Lunenburg a combined 11-0 in the two meetings this season.
The Chieftains got on the scoreboard with 3:19 left in the first period when Anastas snuck one by Bourdelais with the assists going to Mike Magliozzi and Bobby Denaro.
Nashoba spent much of the opening 15 minutes in the attacking zone but only had the one goal to show for it. The hosts outshot Lunenburg 13-5 in the first period.
In the second stanza the home team doubled its lead to 2-0 with 8:59 showing on the scoreboard when Barrett lit the lamp. Chaput and Colvin were awarded assists.
Over the final 15 minutes, Nashoba looked to put the game away, however, the young Blue Knights squad showed some fight. Lunenburg tried to put some pressure on the Nashoba defense and penetrate the attacking zone. Lunenburg managed seven shots in the final frame, most coming on its two power play opportunities in the period. However, the Chieftains would have none of it. Nashoba put the game on ice, no pun intended, with 23 seconds left when Chaput tickled the twine in the back of the net to make it 3-0. Barrett and Garren LaPlante netted assists.
The Chieftains special teams were hard at work on Saturday night. Nashoba was called for all four penalties in the game but it was able to successfully kill off all four and keep the Blue Knights off the scoreboard.