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Winning Culture for Grafton/BVT Hockey

The Grafton/BVT Hockey team is shown celebrating their sectional win in this photo. The team also won the Division 3A State Championship in late March. Contributed photo

This year's state championship run is the latest indicator of the strength of the Grafton/Blackstone Valley Tech hockey program, which has shined for years against top competition.
"We are just trying to build a program here, from top to bottom," head coach Mike Binkoski said. "The kids are learning; they are learning how to play the right way. We play a hard-nosed game. We don't always have the talent other teams do, but we have a great team, something not everyone else has."
Grafton/BVT knocked off South Hadley last month to capture the Division 3A state championship after a tournament run that included a sectional title win and a pair of nail biting, overtime victories early on.
"It was one of those things in a title run where all the things fell into place and the guys were playing their best hockey," Binkoski said. "A bounce goes differently here or there and we are out. Our first playoff game, the kids were a little nervous, but every minute that passes and every chance we created, we got a little more confident."
After an overtime win in the quarterfinals over Hopedale/Millis, the Indians needed only 30 seconds in overtime to knock out Littleton and move on to the district title game.
"It was our year," Binkoski said. "The kids certainly earned the chance to be there. From the beginning of the first practice to the end of the year, they worked their tails off. They truly did earn everything they got."
The roster features 16 Valley Tech players, including assistant captains Cam Thomas and Stefan Sadlon. Thomas was "unbelievable" down the stretch, Binkoski said, scoring the game winning goal in the Central Mass final and delivering a knockout punch with the third goal of the game against South Hadley in the title tilt. Sadlon added key hustle plays, including a back check against Oakmont in the Division 3A Central final that the coaches were still talking about when they met two weeks after the season's end.
Junior Noah Charron added 27 points for Grafton/BVT, and seniors Ed Matatall and Skyler Colwell provided senior leadership, Binkoski said.
"Ed is such a good kid and he battled through the whole year, I don't think anybody beat him in a one-on-one situation," the coach said. "Skyler has been a great leader, he's the perfect guy to fill his role."
Binkoski hopes the success of his team this year will show that public high school hockey programs are still a place where talented young players can thrive.
"High school hockey is coming back, it's a chance to play with the kids you grew up with and build those rivalries," he said. "It's something you just can't get through other programs."




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