Wahconah, St. Joe Skate to 4-4 Tie
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — Falling behind 3-0 at the start of the third period was tough enough.
Going down 4-3 with fewer than three minutes left after erasing that lead may have been even tougher.
But the Wahconah Regional High School hockey team rose to both challenges on Wednesday night to earn a 4-4 tie with St. Joseph at the Boys and Girls Club.
Wahconah High senior and team captain Nick Montferret registered a hat trick, including both tying goals, to help the cooperative team composed of Wahcona, Drury and Hoosac Valley student-athletes salvage a point and improve to 8-3-1 this winter.
"We dug a pretty big hole for ourselves early on," Montferret said. "It's not the place we want to be, obviously, but given the circumstances, we had to do what we had to do, and we came away with the best we could.
"We were pushing the whole game. We wanted that win. We came up a little bit short in the end, but it's OK."
Mount Greylock Regional High School Andrew Leitch was stellar as usual in the St. Joseph goal, stopping 45 shots and holding Wahconah at bay until the 5 minute, 18 second-mark of third period.
Montferret gave his team its first goal of the game, tipping in a blast from the point by Drury senior Ryan Ouimet to make it 3-1.
The Crusaders (5-5-2) broke a scoreless tie midway through the second period, cashing in on a two-man advantage.
Lance McColligan got the play started with a shot from the point that was saved by Wahconah's Roger Stedman (15 saves). The puck ended up on the stick of Mike Bloom, who lit the lamp to give St. Joe a 1-0 lead.
"The goalie made a good first save, and I think it kicked out to the side, and when you're outnumbered five against three, you can't cover everybody," Wahconah coach Don Disbrow said.
St. Joe's second goal also came on the power play, a one-man advantage that ended with Eric Leitch going top shelf off a feed from Andy Cella with 1:34 left in the second.
Bloom scored his second of the game 5:08 into the third when he tipped home McColligan's shot from the point to make it 3-0. The game was starting to look a bit different than the teams' first two meetings, which Wahconah won, 3-2 and 7-2.
"For us to go up 3-0 was huge," St. Joseph coach Tim Kelly said. "But you've got to give Wahconah credit, too. They never gave up."
Montferret scored less than minute after Bloom to make it 3-1, and two Wahconah goals in a span of 1:10 made it a 3-3 affair. First Ouimet scored on a blast from high on the left wing, and then Montferret converted a Lane Grogan cross from the right wing to tie it.
"We knew coming into this game it wasn't going to be an easy game," Kelly said. "They're a fast, elusive team. They're quick. And we knew we were going to have a good game going into it. After a 0-0 tie in the first period, we were kind of pleased. Our goaltender, Andrew, played exceptionally well, of course, again."
Montferret echoed that sentiment.
"Everytime we play him, he's great," Montferret said. "He's the best goalie in the league, the best goalie in Western Mass, probably. You've got to do a lot to get it past him, and sometimes even that doesn't work."
St. Joe regrouped after giving up the big lead, and went back on top when Mount Greylock senior Derek Romejko picked up a loose puck in the neutral zone and rushed through the center of the Wahconah zone, fended off two defenders and slipped one past Stedman to make it 4-3.
"He had two guys hanging on him, and he's definitely a warhorse out there," Kelly said. "He doesn't give up. He's tenacious and strong and a good stick-handler, a good shooter."
Montferret showed his nose for the puck one more time with 57 seconds left, cashing in a rebound to tie it 4-4 and preserve a point in the standings for his team.
Both teams will be in action again on Saturday, with Wahconah hosting Taconic and St. Joseph going against Mount Everett.