By Ryan Massad, Contributing Writer
Shrewsbury – As the final horn sounded to end Shrewsbury's District semi-final loss against Wachusett in 2013, the Colonials hockey team was already looking forward to 2014. Coach Steve Turnblom and his staff made that clear before the team was even able to take their equipment off. 2013 wasn's the year for the Colonials, but 2014 would be. That was a sentiment shared by the entire team.
This season, the Colonials came out like a battering ram, running through teams to a record of 21-2-1. Desire certainly wasn's Shrewsbury's only attribute. The talent on every line was relentless for opponents. Such depth created mismatches, and allowed the Colonials plenty of opportunities to light the lamp.
Retribution felt good for senior Captain Dave Belbin, who may have been the most selfless player on the roster. Belbin,? once a defenseman, started the season as a first line forward. The fast progression of sophomore Matt Dillon put Turnblom and his staff in the good predicament, of having a player so good that room had to be made on the top line. Belbin then agreed with the coaching staff to switch spots with Dillon, allowing the promising sophomore to skate on the first line with twin brothers Dan and Jack Quinlivan.
“When Coach told me I was switching to offense, and would play on the same line as Dan and Jack, I was very excited,” Dillon said. “I knew that was best for the team.”
Dillon went on to finish second in the state in points.
After cruising through the regular season, Shrewsbury was rewarded with a first round bye, eventually playing Leominster in the district semi-final. After a 7-2 victory over Leominster, the Colonials would face the team that bounced them the previous three years- Wachusett Regional High School.
“Wachusett has always been a good club,” said Assistant Coach Nate Lavner. “They knocked us out of the playoffs three straight years, and we wanted to return the favor this season.”
Shrewsbury went on to win 4-1, claiming their first district title since 2009.
The district playoff games were battles compared to the two games Shrewsbury played in the State Tournament. The Colonials easily defeated Westfield 6-0 in the semi-finals, and beat Hanover 7-1 in the final.
“It felt incredible to take home the State Title,” Dillon noted. “Our goal coming into this year was to take it home, and to win by a large margin proved that we really deserved it.”
The team celebrated at Shrewsbury hockey haven Lakeside Bar and Grill, with chicken parm, and endless fountain soda – all on the house. Looking forward to next year, the Colonials will have to replace some key members of their defense, as well as senior goaltender Will Shipman, but there will be plenty of time to worry about that later. For now, the Colonials are just going to bask in the glory of being Massachusetts state champions.