Monday, March 13, 2017

Cam Powell Stands Tall as Grafton/BVT Tops Oakmont in D3A Central

By William Aubin

FITCHBURG, Mass. - Grafton/Blackstone Valley Tech will compete for state championship against South Hadley on Thursday night, thanks to sophomore goaltender Cam Powell turning aside 25 shots, as Grafton staved off the Oakmont, 5-2, to win the Central Mass Division 3A Championship Saturday at the Wallace Civic Center in Fitchburg.

Grafton/ Blackstone Valley (16-6-1) was aided by two 2 goal performances from both sophomore forward Jake Baker and senior assistant captain Cam Thomas in the victory. Oakmont sophomore forward Ryan Peralta was the only Spartans player to solve Powell, scoring twice in his team’s loss.

Baker’s first tally opened up the scoring when he fired a wrist-shot from the slot, eluding Oakmont netminder Greg Mattson at the 12:43 mark of the first period. Oakmont (13-6-4) responded, mounting a sustained attack in the Grafton/BVT zone for the rest of the period, however. After a series of Powell saves on golden chances from Oakmont, including senior defenseman Sean Richard’s howitzer of a slap-shot that Powell denied, the Spartans remained persistent. Oakmont’s Peralta circled the zone from behind the net and threw a no-look snap-shot that beat Powell short-side.

Peralta nearly scored again just minutes later as he slipped past Grafton/BVT defense with an impressive individual effort, but was rebuffed by Powell. Grafton/BVT regained the lead as sophomore forward Charlie Farrah beat Oakmont’s Mattson at the 4:00 mark. Although out-played and outshot 15-6, Grafton/BVT led 2-1 at the end of one period.

“No question about it, they took it to us,” Grafton/BVT Beavers coach Michael Binkoski said about Oakmont’s first period surge. “That first period they were definitely all over us. That was the point we made going into the second period.

"We can’t play three periods with them all over us, Binkoski continued. "We definitely settled down in the second, that was one of the keys in the game.”

It was Oakmont, however, that drew first blood in the second period, as Peralta scored an unassisted short-handed goal at the 7:11 mark. Peralta intercepted a Grafton defenseman’s fanned outlet pass and buried a low-rising wrist shot that found its way through Powell’s five-hole.

Oakmont attackers came in waves midway through the second period, spending much of the game gaining entry out of their own end and into their opponents zone, until Grafton’s Cam Thomas capitalized on a turnover himself, beating Mattson glove-side giving the Indians a 3-2 lead heading into the game’s final frame.

Jake Baker’s second goal of the game gave the Indians a 4-2 lead. Baker weaved through three Oakmont bodies, and beat Mattson with a deke at the 10:12 mark of the third period.

Oakmont nearly cut the deficit to one goal but it was Powell again who robbed Peralta on the power-play with an acrobatic save to preserve the lead.

Powell also made inspiring saves on shots from freshman forward Jake Hewitt, and later on sophomore Ryan Caisse in the waning minutes of the game as Oakmont tried to save its season.

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