Third-period surge sends Belchertown past Taconic, 3-2


PITTSFIELD -- Taconic hockey defenseman Harrison Rapant said the Braves got closer to playing a full, successful hockey game Wednesday night.

Unfortunately for him and the Braves, the scoreboard and standings still don't show the result they're hoping to achieve.

An Alex Bachand wrist shot bounced off, and then past, goalie Brenden Leary with 2 minutes, 18 seconds remaining Wednesday night to give Belchertown a 3-2 win over Taconic at the Boys & Girls Club.

The Braves entered the third period with a 2-1 lead, but Belchertown applied the pressure and received goals by Cam Cass and Bachand in the final 9 minutes to seal Taconic's fate at home.

"I was dying in the third. So was Shane [Tierney]," Rapant said. "It's just getting tiring, and they were working us."

Taconic's chances on offense were few and far between in the final period, though Rapant's strong defense and the goaltending of Leary kept the Braves in it. Still, Belchertown forced the issue and got two in the net when they were needed most.

Taconic called a timeout with 44 seconds left to try and set up a final rush, and pulled Leary with 30 seconds remaining, but a final shot was deflected high and past the net.

"We're implementing a couple of systems, both offensively and defensively, and the kids are really executing well about half the time," Taconic coach Stephen Terpak said. "We're certainly getting our opportunities. We just don't quite capitalize on our [opportunities] yet. All I can say is we're getting better."

The Orioles struck first on the power play, as Tommy Daley slapped a close-range shot past Leary with 7:03 remaining in the first. Before that point, Taconic had seen the better of the scoring chances, but couldn't find the back of the net. That changed with 1:04 left in the period, as Connor Conant skated through the heart of the Oriole defense and scored to tie the game.

Nick Whittaker's goal put Taconic ahead with 9:18 left in the second, as his point-blank shot trickled past Belchertown goalie Kyle Greene.

Then came the third. Belchertown put the pressure on, and it paid off with Cass' goal with 8:18 remaining. That pressure continued, and eventually led to Bachand's go-ahead tally.

"I thought it was an evenly-matched game," Belchertown coach Matt Crutch said. "It took us a little while to get our legs going. Once we did, I thought we were a better skating team than them.

"Both goalies were phenomenal. That's probably two of the better goalies I've seen all year."

Rapant, whose play on defense took away a number of Oriole scoring opportunities, said the Braves still need to put together three full periods in mind and body.

"Physicality," he said. "Just the mental toughness, it's gotta be there. It isn't there right now. That's a good team we played, and we stuck with them."

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