WEST SPRINGFIELD — After holding off a strong offensive effort from Chicopee Comp in the first period, Wahconah seemingly entered the second stanza of Saturday's Western Massachusett Division III-A semifinal with some momentum.
That was even more clear after the Warriors scored early in the second period, taking a lead over the Colts. But Chicopee Comp answered quickly with an equalizer and then added a key goal just 55 seconds before the second intermission en route to an eventual 4-1 victory over the Warriors at Olympia Ice Center.
The Colts (13-5-3) are set to face Amherst in the Division III-A championship on Thursday at Olympia Ice Center at 5:30 p.m.
For the Warriors (15-5-1), Logan Rumbolt opened the scoring just 35 seconds into the second period off an assist from Nico Moreno. That came after the aforementioned first period in which Chicopee Comp had several scoring chances, but Wahconah shut them out.
It was a combination of solid goaltending from Wahconah's Nico Romano (27 saves) and a good defensive effort from the Warriors in that first period. Chicopee Comp went on two power plays in the frame, including 18 seconds of 5-on-3 action as the two advantages briefly crossed over. But the Colts didn't score.
After Rumbolt's goal to open the second, though, Comp began to find the back of net. Jeremy Lewis scored just over five minutes into the frame to tie the game, 1-1, before Cam Kagan scored with just under a minute remaining until the second intermission. That gave the Colts a 2-1 advantage heading into the third.
"Playoff games, the atmosphere is so much different than the regular season," Wahconah coach Don Disbrow said. "Kids were skating a lot harder. Even in past playoffs, when we were winning, it's fatigue. It's the end of the season and the end of a game where you're playing as hard as you're playing."
Kagan scored his second goal with just over nine minutes remaining in the game, doubling the Chicopee Comp lead, before Garrett Riopelli recorded an empty-netter to seal the victory with 17 seconds left.
"I'm proud, [Chicopee Comp] was absolutely a good team," Disbrow said. "We had some opportunities that we didn't put away. But they go out and they give their effort. It's part of living and learning."
Playing the game without Mike Bloom or Andrew Beaudoin, Wahconah almost tied the game early in the third period, but Chicopee Comp goalie Parker Nunes (21 saves) came up with the clutch save.
The Colts went on a power play just over a minute later, with 11:43 remaining in the third period, but Wahconah killed it off. However, the Colts took a 3-1 lead just 20 seconds after the power play ended.
Wahconah almost cut the deficit in half with just under 4:30 remaining, but Vinnie Orlandi's one-time effort was met with a strong glove save from Nunes.
"It was a good season," Wahconah's Romano said. "We shouldn't keep our heads down. We made it this far and lost to a good team."
The game was a rematch of last season's Western Mass. Division III-A championship. The fifth-seeded Warriors, after making a run to the final which included a 6-5 win over No. 1 Chicopee in the semis, fell to the Colts by a score of 4-2 last year.
W — Logan Rumbolt (Nico Moreno), 0:35. CC — Jeremy Lewis (Cam Kagan, Dexter Labonte), 5:40. CC — Kagan (Lewis, Brandon Pavoni), 14:05.
CC — Kagan (unassisted), 5:37. CC — Garrett Riopelli (empty net), 14:43.
Saves — Nico Romano (W) 27, Parker Nunes (CC) 21.
Contact Joseph Rea at 413-496-6240.