By Jess Thomas
The Nashoba Regional High School boys ice hockey team beat Worcester, 3-0, to win the CMass. Division 3A championship at the Wallace Civic Center on Monday, March 9.
The district championship marks the first time that Nashoba has won a title since 1980 when they won the Division 2 title.
Nashoba achieved this milestone under first year hockey head coach Trevor Short.
“Long wait,” Short said. “We’ve been to district semis two other times since I’ve been at Nashoba (as an assistant coach), but weren’t able to get it done.”
The team certainly got it done in the championship game, as freshman Bryce Chaput scored two of the three goals and Brad Colvin knocked the other score in on a power play.
The score was 3-0 by the end of two periods and senior goalkeeper Luke Gilchrest secured the shutout with 27 saves.
The Chieftains were coming off of a 7-0 shellacking of Northbridge High School in the CMass. Division 3A semifinal at the New England Sports Center in Marlboro on Wednesday, March 4.
Coach Short said after Wednesday’s game, “It’s good to get over that hump, that was my goal: to get to the semifinals and see what happens and here we are. I think we’ve got a good chance.”
Nashoba was picked as the first seed in the district playoffs after finishing 14-6 in the regular season. Northbridge (10-6-6) was the fifth seed, earning a shot to play the Chieftains after beating Oakmont 3-2 in the quarterfinals.
“They’re (Northbridge) a good squad,” Short said. “They beat us earlier in the regular season, 5-4, and that is a team that does not quit. I think they’re the most underrated team in 3A.”
But the Rams of Northbridge were no match for Nashoba on Wednesday night.
The game was scoreless for the first 10 minutes of action in the first period, but senior Jack Charbonneau put Nashoba on the board first as he squeaked the puck past the Rams’ goalie Nick Dame.
Northbridge had multiple chances in the opening period, outshooting Nashoba on goal 7-3, but could not get the puck to the back of the net against goalkeeper Luke Gilchrest, who had 19 saves on the evening, pitching a shutout.
“He (Luke Gilchrest) stood tall today, that’s what we needed him to do,” Short said after the semi-final game. “He knew it was win or go home.”
At the 13:04 mark of the first period, sophomore Bobby Denaro shot an unassisted bullet into the net to give Nashoba 2-0 lead after one.
The Chieftains were just getting warmed up as Dan Kerble knocked in Nashoba’s third goal 3:08 into the second period from the front of the net. Just 15 seconds later, Nashoba nearly scored again, but the shot was saved by Northbridge.
The game got out of hand when the Chieftains scored two more goals in the last 3:30 of the second period, courtesy of a power play goal by junior Brad Colvin and a second goal for Denaro.
Short said, “This is a team that’s been working hard since the Monday after Thanksgiving. I’ve got four lines of guys, 22 guys, that come every day, they’re prepared, they’ve got senior leadership, got a good goaltender and solid play all around tonight.”
The Chieftains put the cherry on top in the third period with another Kerble goal followed by a Kevin Gilchrest score nine minutes later. Short noted that the 7 – 0 final score was not reflective of the talent level that the Rams possess.
After outscoring opponents 10-0 in the districts to secure the top spot, the Chieftains will now take on Chicopee Comp for the Division 3A state title on Thursday, March 12 at 7:45 p.m. in Springfield at the MassMutual Center.