By HockomockSports.com Staff
Player are listed alphabetically
Michael Albert, Senior – Taunton
The Tigers are going to be a young team this season so it will be important, especially early on, for the experienced players to lead the way. The good news for Taunton is that junior forward Michael Albert is back in the fold, a year after he led the team in scoring as just a sophomore. Albert was among the Hockomock League’s top scorers last year, scoring 10 goals and adding 19 assists for 29 points, which tied for ninth-most during the regular season. His 19 assists are what stand out the most, showing he can get teammates involved. The Tigers also have a couple of new additions to the roster through transfer so one of the early challenges will be finding the right combination of players that gel. While head coach Kris Metea sorts that out, he can lean on Albert’s speed, skill, and vision to carry the Tigers offensively again this year.
Rocco Bianculli, Junior – King Philip
Bianculli has been one of the league’s top skating defensemen for the past two seasons, becoming a top playmaker at the blue line and opening up scoring opportunities for his teammates. This year, the goal for the Warriors to get back into the playoffs and Bianculli’s speed with the puck and his stick skills through the center of the ice give KP a different look that can be hard for teams to contain. As a sophomore, Bianculli scored seven goals and added seven assists and his continued development as a physical player to go along with his vision and accurate shot, he will be a difficult matchup. His speed also enables him to recover in the defensive zone, even when it looks like he’s beat. KP has a clear goal this year and Bianculli will be a key to the team ending its wait for tournament play.
Hunter Costello, Senior – Oliver Ames
Two of the things that has made Oliver Ames competitive year in and year out is effort and versatility. Senior Hunter Costello has been on the Tigers’ roster for three years for a reason, and now a senior captain could be poised to have a breakout senior season. The Tigers lost a talented group to graduation but boast a good amount of experience, and a lot of players that are familiar with former assistant-now head coach Mike Zucarelli. Costello is one of those players back, coming off back-to-back seasons in which he recorded double-digit points. He had five goals and six assists during the regular season as a sophomore, and then last year took a big step forward with nine goals and 15 assists. As a captain and one of the most experienced players on the squad, OA will be relying on his leadership both on and off the ice.
Johnny Hagan, Senior – Canton
During Canton’s historic run to an unbeaten state title last winter, the one player that drew the most attention from scouts and opposing coaches was Hagan. They saw what anyone who followed the Bulldogs for three seasons already knew, Hagan has that killer combination of speed, toughness, and skill that makes him so difficult to contain in the offensive zone, while he has the physical, competitive nature to go and battle for loose pucks in the defensive zone. Hagan scored 51 points as a junior, 21 goals and 30 assists, and seemed to always come through in the clutch, including a hat trick in the state title game at the TD Garden. The loss of center Ryan Nolte will be difficult, considering his record point total last year, but Hagan’s return gives Canton plenty of firepower to try and make a run at back-to-back titles and maybe an elusive Super 8 berth.
Chris Jenkins, Senior – Mansfield
Every winter, the Mansfield roster goes through a number of changes, as players leave for prep schools or juniors programs and several players make returns to the Hornets. One of the players that will be coming back this season is Jenkins. The senior forward returns after two seasons with the South Shore Kings and should give the Hornets a much-needed boost on the offensive end, especially after Matt Copponi moved on. During his freshman season with the Hornets, Jenkins made an instant impact, scoring 11 goals and recording 10 assists. His 21 points was third-best on the team. A smooth forward with good size and an accurate shot, Jenkins should give Mansfield a little extra punch in the zone and is a talented skater who can cause problems in transition. The Hornets were so close to unseating Franklin at the top of the Kelley-Rex division last year and they will be happy to have Jenkins back in the fold to try and make another run at the league title.
Kirk Leach, Junior – Foxboro
Last year was the best season in program history, as the Warriors set records for wins (12) and points (27) in a season while earning an impressive victory over Mansfield and a point against Franklin. Leach is the team’s top returning scorer and will be counted on to try and keep the upward trajectory of the past two seasons by taking on a bigger role in the attack after the graduation of Brendan Tully. As a sophomore, Leach scored 18 goals and recorded 20 assists and showed off impressive speed that made it difficult to contain him in the transition game. He was also a player willing to mix it up in the corners or get physical in the middle of the ice and his size gives the Warriors a player who can cause matchup problems for the opposition. With Leach’s determination to get to the net and cause problems and several returning players who have gained experience last winter, Foxboro will still have a dangerous attack and will still have the postseason on its mind as the new year gets started.
Owen Lehane, Senior – Canton
The offense gets most of the press for the Bulldogs, but the Canton defense was also dominant last season and a critical component to a historic, unbeaten state title. Lehane is a guaranteed top-four defenseman for the Bulldogs again this year and his ability to control the blue line as a physical player and as a skilled passer will be important against this winter. Last year, Canton held teams to just 23 goals in 26 games and the combination of Lehane and classmate John Connolly make the defensive unit just as formidable this season. Lehane also chipped in with four goals and 10 assists last year, including the opening goal in the state championship game. Expectations are sky high for the Bulldogs again this season and Lehane’s experience at the blue line is one of the reasons that Canton will have hopes for back-to-back titles.
Dennis Morehouse, Senior – North Attleboro
North Attleboro is another team with a new coaching staff and several new faces this season but the Rocketeers will be able to count on an explosive scorer on the wing, as Morehouse comes back this year after tying for sixth in the Hock in goals last year. A big, physical forward with a cannon for a shot, Morehouse scored 15 goals in the regular season and added four assists. North may need him to be more of a playmaker this year to make up for several graduations, but he has been a consistently solid scorer flying down the right wing and someone who isn’t afraid to mix it up in the corners, using his body to push aside defenders and give himself space to create. As the only player to hit double digits for goals last year, Morehouse will be expected to be the primary scoring threat again for North, which is looking to continue its progress as a program and keep its string of playoff appearances alive this winter.
Ryan Morry, Senior – Attleboro
Attleboro has been a team that is consistently in the playoff mix in Div. 3 and one of the main reasons that the Bombardiers have the tournament as a goal again this winter is the return of Morry. The senior forward is coming off a season in which he was third in the league in scoring with 40 points. He finished with 16 goals and added 24 assists, as the Bombardiers turned to him to pick up some of the scoring touch from the graduation of Jake Parker. This year, Morry will be counted on even more to give Attleboro a creative force in the attacking zone, while continuing to be an all-around player that can help out the defense and is capable of playing on the power play or penalty kill. The Bombardiers will ask a lot of Morry this season, in terms of ice time and production, but his physicality, speed, and stick skills give him the potential to bring Attleboro back to the postseason again this year.
Tom Tasker, Senior – Franklin
There is a lot of change around the Franklin program this season, with a new coaching staff taking over after the retirement of Chris Spillane. The Panthers have become one of the top public school programs in the state and Tasker will be one of the players that the new staff relies on to keep that consistency this season. The senior defenseman is a strong, aggressive player who is tough to beat in the corners but is also capable of stepping up into the attack and has one of the league’s hardest shots from the blue line. He scored three goals and had 10 assists last year and showed the ability to play different brands of hockey depending on the opponent. He can race up and down the ice or he can sit back in the defensive zone and be the physical presence that the Panthers needed. In a season where there is a lot of changes, Tasker’s return for a third year on varsity gives some much-needed stability to the defensive pairings.