Big season for Amherst puck

The ARHS hockey team won Western Mass last year, and this year they planned on doing it again. “Our goal for this season was to be back-to-back Western Mass champions,” said senior and captain Jake Balderston.

But the team lost to South Hadley in the semifinals 4-2. Junior goalie Clayton Bowser was disappointed. “Everyone slept on South Hadley,” he said. “They were one of the better teams in the league.”

Balderston thought it was the seniors’ fault they lost. “We set a bad tone for playoffs and weren’t ready for South Hadley,” he said. “The seniors didn’t set a good example for the team.”

Bowser disagreed.  “The seniors have good leadership. That’s why Baldy, Natty, and Hopley are captains.”

The Amherst hockey team fought a hard season. With the help of Coach Mike Rousseau, they had a 14-5-2 season.

“He is strategic about the game mechanics,” said Bowser. “He’s honest and upfront, he is a great teacher of Hockey,” added Balderston.

In practice, the boys work on plays, stick skills, and conditioning.

Practice is at 3 p.m. at Orr rink at Amherst College. “Practice is pretty uptempo, there’s a lot of skating and conditioning,” said Balderston.

For a goalie, practice is a little different. “We stretch, warm up the goalie, skate a lot, and work on special teams like power plays and stuff,” said Bowser.

Amherst Hockey had a few tough, hard-fought games this year.

The most important games of the season were against Belchertown, Chicopee, and South Hadley. “They are pretty good and a challenge. Every other team is dust,” said Bowser. “For B-town, we were a better team but we just stooped down to their level.”

The team had some highlights this season. “We tried to prove to everyone that we can compete and we were still legit without the seniors from last season,” said Balderston.

Captains Nathan Masteralexis and Balderston both got 100 points this season and the team beat Belchertown.

There were certain players who had a good year also. “Natty [Masteralexis] had the most goals, and my defense bros Gio and Longto held it down,” said Bowser.

Amherst Puck is more than a team; they are brothers.

The players love the sport. “I love being with the boys. I love the sacrifice the puck bros make for each other out on the ice,” said Balderston. “We hang out outside of hockey to bond as a team.”

Bowser had this to add: “Puck is life! I love chilling with the boys.”

Anyone can try out for the team, “because we don’t have the numbers,” said Balderston. “The only way you’ll get cut is if you are failing classes.”

“We got slept on, but we’re good. Nobody hyped us up. I won’t be there, but that needs to change for next year,” said Balderston.

Bowser’s plan for next year is to win the Western Mass championship. “Next year, we are gonna regain the title of being champions,” he said. “We’ll definitely be good enough, we have a lot of talent coming in, and the rest of the league will be dust.”