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Buzz-worthy: Woodstock wins second straight boys hockey title

  • Woodstock's Andrew Gubbins (5) shoots and scores a goal against Colchester goalie Sam Fath during the second period of the Division II boys hockey championship at the Gutterson Fieldhouse in Burlington, Vt., on Wednesday, March 13, 2019. (Valley News - Joseph Ressler) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

  • Woodstock's Lucas Piconi (17) reacts to scoring a goal, along with Owen Coates, during the second period of the Division II boys hockey championship against Colchester at the Gutterson Fieldhouse in Burlington, Vt., on Wednesday, March 13, 2019. (Valley News - Joseph Ressler) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

  • The Woodstock student section cheers on their team after they won the Division II boys hockey championship against Colchester at the Gutterson Fieldhouse in Burlington, Vt., on Wednesday, March 13, 2019. Woodstock won, 3-1. (Valley News - Joseph Ressler) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

  • Woodstock's Tom Bissaillon hugs Charles Greene after they won the Division II boys hockey championship against Colchester at the Gutterson Fieldhouse in Burlington, Vt., on Wednesday, March 13, 2019. Woodstock won, 3-1. (Valley News - Joseph Ressler) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

  • Woodstock's David "Field" Willis tosses a mouth guard amongst the scattered gear after his team won the Division II boys hockey championship against Colchester at the Gutterson Fieldhouse in Burlington, Vt., on Wednesday, March 13, 2019. Woodstock won, 3-1. (Valley News - Joseph Ressler) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

  • Colchester's Robby Rassel (19) takes the puck from Woodstock's Ely Chynoweth during the first period of the Division II boys hockey championship at the Gutterson Fieldhouse in Burlington, Vt., on Wednesday, March 13, 2019. (Valley News - Joseph Ressler) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

  • Woodstock's Tom Bissaillon (center) and Captain Ely Chynoweth get up from taking a picture with their team after they won the Division II boys hockey championship against Colchester at the Gutterson Fieldhouse in Burlington, Vt., on Wednesday, March 13, 2019. Woodstock won, 3-1. (Valley News - Joseph Ressler) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.



Valley News Staff Writer
Wednesday, March 13, 2019

BURLINGTON — Graduations can be volatile on any varsity program, making it difficult — if not impossible — to keep any kind of sustained success going for multiple seasons. The good teams with good coaches find a way to beat the odds, reinventing their teams on fly.

Enter Woodstock High’s boys hockey team — retooled and readjusted from the loss of two scoring stars in the offseason — as Exhibit A.

The Wasps turned a change in personnel into a chance to get deeper — and more dangerous — in the offseason, bringing their new swagger to Wednesday’s VPA Division II boys hockey championship game. Top-seeded and defending champion Woodstock smothered No. 3 Colchester in a 3-1 victory at the University of Vermont’s Gutterson Fieldhouse for its second D-II title in as many seasons.

“I’m pretty speechless right now,” said Woodstock head coach Jon Chamberlain, in his fourth season at the helm. “It was one person every other night for us. It’s been really special to see them come together as a team. We’ve won twice in a row now, two different ways.”

The Wasps, who finish the winter 16-2-3 overall, lost dual scorers Steven Townley and Cullen McCarthy in the offseason, who combined for 65 goals to help Woodstock win its first title in 18 years last winter.

The losses forced Chamberlain and his coaching staff to change his team on the fly, transitioning into a more reliable defensive team game — this time without the help of cheat codes that could bail the Wasps out in a pinch.

The result was on display on Wednesday — a multi-unit attack that came at Colchester (16-5-1) in waves. Woodstock finished its season with only 65 goals for and 23 goals against, a system that has allowed Wasps junior goaltender Henry Greene to shine.

“It’s the same mold, just two completely different teams. We lost two great leaders,” Chamberlain said. “This team was harder to capture than last year’s team with all the youth, the lack of scoring. We just wanted to be the best defensive team in the state. We were.”

Woodstock scored all of its goals in a span of 3 minutes and 23 seconds in the second period to bring home the third championship in program history.

Andrew Gubbins opened the scoring in the second period with a spin move and a shot from his knees off of a rebound and a scramble in front of Colchester goaltender Sam Fath. The puck found the back of net past a sprawling Fath for his third goal of the tournament.

“It was just kind of a scramble in front,” said Gubbins, who unleashed a game-high seven shots. “I just put it on net. … To repeat, it feels so good.”

Then, the floodgates opened up.

Woodstock added to its lead off of a miscue by Colchester’s penalty kill, which went off for a line change on a slow rolling puck onto the stick of Wasps goaltender Henry Greene. Greene sent a stretch pass of the right boards and onto the stick of Lucas Piconi for a breakaway. Piconi shot far side past Fath, who was hugging the near post, to make it 2-0.

Woodstock’s Ely Chynoweth added to it 54 seconds later by shooting a prayer toward the net from against the boards near the blue line that went bar down, short side over Fath’s left shoulder. It was his first goal of the season.

The Wasps finished the second period with an 18-10 advantage in shots.

“We lost Cullen and Steven but I think we’re more of a team this year,” said Gubbins, who played on a line with McCarthy and Townley for stretch season. “More people contributed. It feels a lot better. … Those guys were extremely experienced. They taught me everything.”

Colchester cut the deficit to two with 2:50 left in the third period when Will Spencer put home a rebound off of Greene. The Lakers pulled the goalie for an extra attacker and applied plenty of pressure down the stretch.

Greene was up to the task, keeping the game under control with quick stoppages of play. He made six of his 20 saves in the final 1:30 of the third period, including three on wide-open chances in front of him, to keep Colchester off the board.

“I told (Greene) before the game that he was going to win the state championship for us,” Chamberlain said. “He made three or four huge saves at the end. It was great.”

Colchester made its first appearance in the final since 2012 — a 3-1 loss to BFA-St. Albans in the D-I championship game. The Lakers are 2-4 all-time in finals and haven’t won a championship since 2006.

“They’re a great team, bottom line,” Colchester head coach Andy Corran said. “I think they were really able to build off of momentum. You could see that in the middle of the second, when the ice started to tilt. They are playing great hockey.”

Woodstock graduates only three — Piconi, Chynoweth and Max Dodson — from its roster this season, bringing back a group of seven for their senior seasons next winter. Winning back-to-back championships is special. A three-peat would be other worldly.

“Next year will be the exact same thing,” Chamberlain said. “We’ll have new leaders. Next year’s team will be completely different. We’ll be ready to go. Today is the first day.”

This time, at least, Chamberlain won’t have to build the offense from scratch.

Josh Weinreb can be reached at jweinreb@vnews.com or 603-727-3306.