Amherst hockey team’s road to success

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    The boys hockey team poses for a picture after winning the Western Mass championship. Photo: Bruce O'Leary
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    Matthew Gazaille takes a shot on net. Photo: Bruce O'Leary
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    Boys hockey defeated Chicopee Comp at the Western Mass championship. Photo: Bruce O'Leary

According to MassLive, ARHS recently won the Western Massachusetts Divison IIIA title on March 10 for the first time since 1994.

Though Amherst lost 5-1 to Nashoba in the state final on March 17, the team was thrilled with an amazing season.

ARHS student Jack Rees was one of the 30 students on our successful boys’ hockey team, playing alongside Max Hopley, Jake Balderson, and Nathan Masteralexis.

The team strove for excellence all season as they held the best record in their division until the final.

“Our goals for the whole year were to win Western Mass and the state finals, and that didn’t change,” said Rees.

The previous year the team went through an upset and fell short of their goals, losing in the Western Mass semifinals. They were hungry for the win this year.

Their head coach was Mike Rousseau. “He was a great coach,” said Rees. “He really tapped our potential and made us work as hard as possible.”

The team was put through fast paced, high frequency drills that got their feet moving, all season, constantly trying to improve in order to outdo their opponents.

Rees, along with Jake Balderson and Nathan Masteralexis, were a few of the team’s standout athletes, each with over 30 points in the season in March.

“However, it was a team effort for the most part and no one player was heads higher than the other,” Rees said. “We all worked hard and we won as a team and lost as a team.”

The teams to watch out for were Belchertown, Chicopee, and Chicopee Comp, said Rees. They practiced and worked hard so that they could be ready to face Belchertown in the Western Mass semifinals.

Orr Rink is where they honed their skills, practicing every day after school from 3 p.m. to around 4:30 p.m.

Hockey is Rees’ passion. He took pride in his team and wanted to do whatever it took to win. “I love how fun and intense it was to play,” said Rees. “Every game was equally important and my teammates and I were like a family.” If they were not bonding on the rink, they were bonding off of it.

“We had team dinners and we sometimes went to other games together,” Rees said.

As the season came to a close, the team looked to win it all, and they did everything in their power to keep their heads in the game to find success.