SPRINGFIELD, Mass. -- If you had told the Shrewsbury hockey team prior to Thursday night's Division 3 state semifinal against Westfield that they would hardly break a sweat and display pure dominance, no one would have believed it.
The Colonials dominated play from start to finish, rolling to a 6-0 victory over the defending state champions at MassMutual Center.
"To be honest we didn't think it was going to be a shootout like that," said senior Dave Belbin, who scored a goal and added an assist. "It was only 2-0 us going into the third period and that's the kind of game we expected. Their goalie stood on his head to keep them in it but ours did too. It's been a long journey for us but all of us have worked hard and it's starting to pay off."
Shrewsbury (20-2-1) advances to Sunday's state final against Hanover (18-7-0) at TD Garden beginning at 11. The Colonials won state crowns in 2009 and 1999.
Leading by a pair after 30 minutes, Shrewsbury left no doubt in this one scoring four times in the final frame. Sean Hallice scored at 5:11 to make it 3-0 by rushing hard toward the net, taking a clean pass from Jack Quinivan, and sending a quick wrist shot by Matt Blascak (29 saves). Less than a minute later, Trevor Shea notched his second of the evening with a rebound goal off an initial shot from Belbin.
"That team was just to much for us," said Bombers head coach C.B. Matthews, Jr., his team finishing the year at 16-6-3. "They had four lines that could come at us. We just couldn't contain them. They are one of the best team's we've played for sure. Our goalie kept us in it early but they eventually just wore us down."
Dan Quinlivan and brother Jack closed out the scoring with two more tallies coming at 10:23 and 13:29, respectively. Shrewsbury netminder William Shipman earned the shutout, stopping all 10 shots he faced.
"We wanted to start this game off really tough," said Hallace. "We wanted to keep attacking and not let go. We played well but I thought we could play better. We just shooting the puck on net. Once we got the third goal went in things started to go our way more. Now we get ready for Sunday. "
The Colonials offense set the precedent early, skating circles around the Bombers throughout the opening 15 minutes. Westfield did a lot of standing around, watching Shrewsbury controlling the action mostly inside its own zone.
Blascak was doing a superb job bailing his team out early and often as Shrewsbury peppered the senior consistently but had nothing to show for it.
With all the attempts on net in the frame (12 total), you had to figure it was just a matter of time before one found the back of the net for the Colonials. At 10:58, it did. Jack Quinlivan, standing along the left half board, wired a pass to Dave Belbin in front of the crease. The senior controlled the pass and sent a quick wrister past Blascak giving Shrewsbury a 1-0 lead.
The scenario remained the same for the Colonials in the middle period. Westfield seemed sluggish and wasn't going after the puck with the same tenacity as Shrewsbury was. In fact, on several occasions, the Bombers appeared content in waiting for the puck to come to them. The Colonials, on the other hand, weren't waiting around, often picking off Bomber passes in the lanes.
Shrewsbury extended its lead to two goals at 6:03 of the period when Trevor O'Keefe, skating into the left slot untouched, took a diagonal feed from Shea and poked it past Blascak stick side. Westfield's non-existent offense managed its first shot in the period with 2:39 remaining.
"For the last three-and-a-half months this team has been working very hard and it's all starting to pay off now," Colonials head coach Steve Turnblom said. "Once we got our legs we started moving the puck fast. That's our game. We were able to get a couple of the net and it took off from there. We've been a tough team to play against once we get a lead because of our puck possession. We don't give away the puck much."