FRANKLIN, Mass. – In two seasons of Hockomock League play, Canton and Franklin have established themselves as the teams to beat. The Bulldogs won the inaugural league championship and then last season Franklin took the crown for the first time. In year three, the two teams went into the final game of the regular season separated by just two points at the top of the standings.
As has become the standard when the two teams meet, Wednesday night’s game at Pirelli Veterans Arena was close, defensive, and physical and, in the end, Canton was able to hold out for a 0-0 tie that secured the outright league title.
“It means a lot,” Canton coach Dennis Aldrich said about not sharing the title. “Especially here. When I used to coach the [Canton] boys, anytime we came here or [Franklin] used to come to Ponky, they called it the ‘Dungeon of Doom’, it’s just something about it. The crowd wasn’t the same, but the emotion was.”
With 1:37 remaining and with the Panthers setting up for an offensive zone face-off, Franklin coach Margie Burke called timeout and pulled goalie Gabby Colace (19 saves). There were several surprised reactions from beyond the glass, but it underscored the importance of the title race and how little one point would impact Franklin’s likely seed in the playoffs.
“A win gets us a championship,” said Burke. “I explained it to the kids and they understood why we did it. I had to do it. I’m extremely proud of my girls tonight, they played their heart out.”
The move nearly paid instant dividends, as the Panthers won the draw into the corner and puck was played out in front before being scrambled away. Olivia Maffeo came close to winning the game with 50 seconds left, but the Canton freshman sent a shot from beyond the red line inches wide for icing.
Another face-off led to another good chance for the Panthers, but Lyndsey Atkinson couldn’t keep her shot down from just inside the right circle. Canton pressured to try and get an empty net winner, but the Panthers defense was able to block a couple of shots heading towards goal. The pressure kept the puck in the Franklin defensive zone though and allowed the Bulldogs to run out the clock.
“I have so much respect for her and what she does,” said Aldrich. “It’s a lot of fun for our kids. She’s got a certain style. It’s throw three kids out front, throw the puck there, and see if you can beat them up. We knew that coming in, so we were really stick on stick. We had to commit on that.”
Franklin had more of the attacking play in the first period, outshooting Canton 6-3. Libby Carter had the first good look for the Panthers with a quick shot from the slot that Carolyn Durand (15 saves) was able to stop and then cover before Amanda Lewandowski could pounce on the rebound.
Canton took more than eight minutes to record its first shot, which came off a rush from her own zone by Maffeo. Less than 30 seconds later, the Bulldogs had another good chance when freshman Audrey Koen corralled a loose puck forced a save from Colace.
Atkinson had a near breakaway with six minutes left in the first but the puck was poked away as she tried to pull it onto her backhand and round the goalie.
The visitors started to gain a foothold in the game and ended up with a 10-6 edge in shots in the second. Koen teed up Tess Khoury for an early look right in front but Colace got a pad to the shot. With five minutes left in the second, Maffeo made another long rush into the attacking zone and fired a pass in front by Lizzie Tassinari couldn’t redirect it on net.
Tina Pisano forced a good pad stop from Durand with a wrister from the point and then Canton came inches away from the lead when Maffeo struck the post with a shot from the right circle. Maria Femia followed up the rebound but Colace got across to block the shot.
It remained tense into the third period and it felt like one goal could decide it. Ellie Rae Roberts had a great chance for the Bulldogs, as she collected a deflected puck on the edge of the crease, but Colace again flashed a pad to make the stop.
“It’s so important because we have that confidence that defensively we’re going to do well,” Burke said about the play of her goalie. “It’s putting the puck in the net and we had our opportunities tonight.”
With two minutes to go, Shaw Downing had a shot from the point that was knocked down in front and the Canton defense was able to get it out of the danger area before Lewandowski could get a stick to it. Twenty seconds later, Franklin had a two-on-one rush. Atkinson flipped a pass to Carter on the left wing, but Maffeo came sliding across to block the first chance, and Durand had the angle covered on the second shot.
That set up a frantic finish with the Panthers throwing an extra skater out there in hopes of stealing a share of the title, but the Bulldogs held on to the shutout and both teams got important experience playing in a playoff-like atmosphere.
“We talked about how it was such a good game for us because we should expect that type of game,” Aldrich explained. “It’s going to be that type of punch you in the face, throw the puck to the net. Overall, defensively I thought we did what we wanted to do.”
Burke added, “Franklin and Canton just have that hockey rivalry. They always have and always will.”
Canton (14-1-4) will close out the regular season with a visit from Barnstable on Monday and a trip to Walpole on Wednesday. Franklin (6-8-5) will finish up its regular season when it hosts Leominster next Wednesday.
FRANKLIN, Mass. – Sometimes goal-scoring is about being in the right place at the right time and for the second time this season Franklin’s Amanda Lewandowski found herself in the right spot to score a game-winning goal against Mansfield/Oliver Ames.
Lewandowski was left alone on the far post to tap in the game-winning, power play goal with just under six minutes remaining in Saturday evening’s league encounter at Pirelli Veterans Arena. Franklin added an empty net goal in the final minute to beat the Warriors 3-1, sweeping the season series, and in the process clinching at least second place in the league and a postseason berth.
“She’s that player that’s always on,” said Franklin coach Margie Burke about Lewandowski. “Every game this season has been tough and always against this team. They always come to play.”
Both meetings between the Warriors and Panthers have been tight, low-scoring, and evenly-matched. In games like that, one lapse can prove decisive and that is what happened to the Warriors on Saturday.
MOA coach Roy Bain said, “To have the game fall on a third period power play when it was 1-1 kind of stinks, but you go on the power play then it’s our job to defend the net and they were able to put it away.”
He added, “When you play Hockomock foes, it’s going to be a tight game, only a goal or two is going to separate the teams, but when you leave Lewandowski unattended…you can’t do that.”
Franklin came out in the first and was the aggressor. The Panthers dominated zone time and the shot total for the majority of the period. Lewandowski had the game’s first good look and many in the rink thought she had the first goal. She split a pair of defenders and fired a wrist shot that MOA goalie Jess Widdop was able to get a piece of and keep it out.
Maggie McCaffrey had the next good chance when she got space in the left circle on a two-on-one and forced a save out of Widdop. The MOA goalie had to come up big 90 seconds later when Lewandowski collected a pass from Lyndsey Atkinson and put a backhand shot on net. McCaffrey then teed up Atkinson but Widdop stopped the first show and Lewandowski’s rebound.
The Warriors picked up the pace as the period wore on and had a couple of chances in the closing minutes. The best chance came with two minutes left when Emma Pereira fired a diagonal pass to Emma Garland at the far post but Gabby Colace was in the right place to make the stop.
After Franklin held the 9-4 lead in shots in the first, MOA came out stronger in the second. Atkinson nearly got the breakthrough when she split a pair of defenders but the puck slid just wide of the net and Pereira had a good scoring chance at the other end, forcing a pad save from from Colace.
Lewandowski opened the scoring with seven minutes left in the second. She crossed the zone from right to left and showed great patience before lifting a backhand shot over the glove hand. However, the lead lasted less than a minute. Melissa Shanteler answered right back for the Warriors on a shot that rang in off the bar.
Franklin continued to put the puck on net, something that Burke said was a priority after the first meeting. Molly Hurley got free of the defense and then deked past Widdop but was unable to put a shot on the open net. After Gianna Cameron kept the puck in at the blue line, McCaffrey got a shot off from the slot and then Lewandowski set up Libby Carter for a one-timer that drew a save out of Widdop.
The game remained tied well into the third period when the Panthers were given their first power play chance. Franklin needed only 14 seconds to make the advantage count. Tina Pisano fired a shot from the point that was deflected in front of goal and fell right to the stick of Lewandowski on the post and she was able to stuff in what turned out to be the game-winner.
“Get the puck on net and get the traffic in front of the net,” said Burke about the message after the first game against MOA. “That’s one thing that I feel we need to remind them every game. It’s the traffic. They don’t have to be pretty, it all counts the same.”
MOA sprung into life almost immediately after falling behind. Kylie O’Keefe fired a shot from the left circle that snuck through Colace’s armpit but trickled wide of the post. Pereira got free in the slot for a golden opportunity but was denied by a sliding block from Gina Vignone. With 3:40 left Pereira drove down the right side and nearly set up O’Keefe at the back post but her tip went just wide.
“No one was going to quit and they all knew what was at stake,” said Bain. “We know that we’re going to get their best for 45 minutes, no doubt about it. We knew we had to bring 45 minutes of continuous checking and we brought, I don’t know, 43? They played their hearts out, they did exactly what we wanted them to do.”
After scoring twice to put Franklin in front, Lewandowski missed a chance to wrap up the points when she sent it wide of the empty net, but the Panthers would finally seal the win when Jordan Dwyer picked out Atkinson in front to make it 3-1 inside the final minute.
“We’ve been in every game even against the big teams,” said Burke. “We could go into tournament and win a couple games and do alright, you know? Even though we’re squeaking in there, we’ll see.”
Franklin (6-8-4, 5-1-1) will have a shot at sharing the league title when it hosts Canton on Wednesday night. Mansfield/Oliver Ames (6-8-1, 3-4-0) will start its final playoff push when it travels to Stoughton.
By HockomockSports.com Staff
Canton freshman Olivia Maffeo has been selected as the HockomockSports.com Player of the Week, presented by Morse Insurance, for Jan. 19 through Jan. 25. Maffeo is the 18th player chosen as Player of the Week for the 2019-20 school year and the seventh for the winter season.
Maffeo has been a standout for the Bulldogs this winter in her first season with the program and she was instrumental to Canton going 1-0-1 this week. The rookie defenseman had five points in the two games, including a four-goal game on Saturday, and continues to be among the top scorers in the league, despite playing along the blue line.
“Olivia is one of the most naturally skilled players that I have ever had the privilege of working with,” said Canton coach Dennis Aldrich. “She has reached the level that she is at with her relentless work ethic. Olivia’s competitiveness is second to none and she is still a humble team player. She just loves to compete and win!”
The Bulldogs rallied with a pair of late goals to earn a tie at Medway on Wednesday. Maffeo had an assist to help Canton earn the non-league point. On Saturday night, Maffeo powered the Bulldogs back into the win column. She scored all four of the team’s goals in a 4-1 victory against Hingham.
Maffeo now has a league-high 16 goals to go along with three assists. She leads the Hock with 19 points for the first-place Bulldogs, who are two points ahead of Franklin in the league title race. She is also strong in her own zone and part of a deep Canton defense that has allowed a league-low 14 goals in 13 games and recorded six shutouts this season.
The Player of the Week, presented by Morse Insurance, is selected by the HockomockSports.com staff. Nominations can be submitted throughout the week up until Saturday night at midnight. There may be a poll posted on every Sunday with the nominations. The results of the poll influence the selection but do not strictly dictate the decision.
WALPOLE, Mass. – Goals are at a premium in league games this season and that remained the case when Mansfield/Oliver Ames hosted defending Hockomock champion Franklin at Rodman Arena on Saturday afternoon.
Amanda Lewandowski scored against the run of play in the second period and Gabby Colace made 25 stops to preserve a 1-0 victory for the Panthers in a game in which they were kept on the back foot for the first 30 minutes.
“Definitely a slow start, but we know that every Hockomock League game is going to be like this,” said Frankin coach Margie Burke. “We’re not going to put a lot of pucks on the net this year. We’re going to have to count on good defense and a few lucky breaks.”
The Warriors came flying out of the gates, taking advantage of their team speed to put Franklin on its heels and force the Panthers to defend for long stretches. After Maggie McCaffrey got an early chance on goal for Franklin, MOA started to step on the gas. Tess Luciano started it with a shot from the right circle and Alex Ledin let fly with a slap shot from the high slot that Colace stopped.
With four minutes remaining in the first Reese Pereira managed to get to the front of the net and get a tip from close range. The puck came back around to Ledin and she sent her shot from the slot just wide of the post.
Franklin had been forced back into a shell for much of the period, but did manage a late flurry of chances on the other end. Lewandowski was the catalyst as he forced Jessica Widdop (17 saves) into a stick save from a tight angle and after Gina Vignone threw one at net she forced a blocker stop while falling down.
The hosts were relying on their defensemen to create offensive chances, with Emma Pereira, Julia Muttart, Megan O’Hara, and Melissa Shanteler all getting looks from the point. Vignone and Gianna Cameron led the Franklin defense in trying to clear out any rebounds from the crease.
“They really played well, they blocked shots, they kept their heads up, they didn’t panic against the boards when they were pressured by two players,” MOA coach Roy Bain said about his blue line corps. “I can’t be upset with the way that anyone in that locker room played.”
MOA held an 11-6 edge in shots after the first and the momentum continued following the short breather between periods. Ledin again got a good look at net that went off Colace’s blocker and straight into the air. Cameron cleared before Reese Pereira could get a stick on the loose puck.
“We had a lot of the zone time, we were breaking out as we want to, and their game plan became obvious early, which was to crash the ‘D’ and pinch on the wings,” said Bain. “The goaltender gave up a lot of rebounds but their defense is very responsible in front of their net and stopped us from getting a lot of follow-up chances.”
Libby Carter sent a warning to the Warriors when she got free on a defensive zone turnover only to have Widdop make a big pad save. The breakthrough came three minutes into the second. Vignone flipped a high pass towards goal. Lewandowski managed to bring it down right on the edge of the crease, kicking it to her stick and sliding it past Widdop’s pad for a 1-0 lead.
“That goal tonight, it was a kick, a drop, and a reach,” said Burke. “It was like a soccer or field hockey goal but not an ice hockey goal. I tell them all the time that ugly goals count the same as pretty goals and ugly wins count the same as pretty wins.”
There were more chances for the Warriors to try and even things up in the second, as MOA outshot the Panthers 10-4 in the period and had a four-minute power play, but Lily O’Brien’s shot from the right circle was an example of how Franklin kept the middle of the ice clear.
It was clear that Burke spent the second intermission emphasizing the need to get on the attack, as the third period was by far the best that Franklin played in the offensive zone.
Burke said, “Absolutely, we talked about how everything in the first two periods was a reach and a poke but no body. You have to reach in with your stick and then with your body. They got more physical for sure.”
Lewandowski continued to be a thorn in MOA’s side. She skated behind the net and fired a pass all the way out to Vignone at the point for a shot through traffic that Widdop saved, and then stopped the rebound effort as well. Freshman Shaw Downing had an effort from the blue line that Lewandowski managed to tip in front but Widdop again stayed tall to stop.
The Warriors kept pushing for an equalizing goal, but Franklin continued to hold them at bay. Colace came up with a huge glove save on a blast by Emma Pereira from the edge of the left circle. It was the last good look for the home team.
“It’s tough when you lose by a goal but you can’t be upset that you lost by a goal because every single person played their heart out,” Bain said. “We played great, they were just one goal better.”
Franklin (2-2-1) will face a battle against the first league champion, Canton, on Wednesday. Mansfield/Oliver Ames (3-4-1) will have a short turnaround to try and end its three-game losing streak when it hosts Stoughton on Sunday.