Mansfield’s Foley Signs Contract to Join NHL’s Blues

Erik Foley
BRIDGEPORT, CT – MARCH 23: The NCAA Division I Men’s Ice Hockey East Regional Championship Semifinal at Webster Bank Arena on March 23, 2018 in Bridgeport, Connecticut. (Photo by Rich Gagnon)
Josh PerryFollowJoshPerry

Although he only spent one year at Mansfield High, Erik Foley made an instant impact on the Hornets, leading the team in scoring with 22 goals and 39 points, and helping Mansfield advance to the Div. 2 South final. It was the first sectional final in the program’s history. Despite Foley scoring against Franklin that night at Gallo Arena in Bourne, the Panthers would get the victory and advance to the TD Garden.

It would be the last game Foley would play in Mansfield’s green and white.

Even as a freshman, Mansfield supporters and opponents recognized the potential in his game. It was obvious that, as Franklin coach Chris Spillane said after that final, “Number 6 (Foley) is a player.” His talent took Foley from skating at the Foxboro Sports Center to Tabor Academy, Cedar Rapids of the USHL, Providence College, and to the World Juniors. While he didn’t win a title that night in Bourne, he has since won a gold medal with Team USA.

Now, Foley has taken his career to the ultimate level, as he will forgo his senior season at PC and has signed a three-year, entry-level contract with the St. Louis Blues. He has come a long way from that impressive rookie season in the Hock.

“It’s something I’ve always dreamed about saying and you don’t really think of it coming through,” said Foley in a phone call from San Antonio this week. “You think of it as something in the back of your head, but it’s a surreal thing to think about. I’m just truly excited to have that opportunity to say that and hopefully I can make the most of it.”

Foley went to St. Louis for a physical and to meet with the Blues staff before heading to San Antonio to practice with the Rampage, an American Hockey League (AHL) affiliate of the Colorado Avalanche, on an amateur tryout (ATO). Foley and several other NHL hopefuls are working out and getting their first taste of the professional life with the Blues’ development camp scheduled for June.

“It’s great and the weather is nice,” Foley explained. “I’m not playing or anything, just taking it easy, but it’s nice to be here and get acclimated with the staff.”

He was drafted by Winnipeg in the third round (78th overall) in the 2015 NHL Entry Draft, after leading the Cedar Rapids RoughRiders with 27 goals and 27 assists in 55 games during the 2014-15 season. Foley’s rights were traded on Feb. 26 from Winnipeg to St. Louis for NHL veteran Paul Stastny.

Foley, 5-foot-11 winger, is having fun with the fact that he has already been traded before even officially becoming an NHL player. He joked, “When I got traded my agent called me and he said, ‘Did you hear the news?’ And I said, ‘Yeah.’ He goes ‘Well, welcome to pro hockey.’”

“It was kind of a cool experience being part of a trade for such a big player,” Foley added. “It really put into perspective how much the Blues wanted me and how much they pushed to get me. It was a humbling experience for me.”

When Foley began his hockey career playing in the youth program in Mansfield in junior high, professional hockey was only a pipe dream. “It was a good time,” he said of playing with his classmates and good friends like Evan Kershaw and Will Kelleher. “When you’re that young, you’re just having fun playing the game and you’re not really thinking about if you’re going to play in college or if you’re going pro, you’re just having fun with a good group of guys.”

Even when he started at Mansfield, Foley, who also played for the Neponset Valley River Rats, was more worried about making the varsity team than where the game could take him. As he excelled during his one season with the Hornets, he started talking to Tabor coach Gerry Dineen, who was a friend of the family and whose son Brett had played with Foley. Knowing the coaches would look out for his interests, he saw Tabor as the right fit and looking back now Foley sees it as crucial to his development as a player.

“Tremendously,” he said when asked how much Tabor helped him grow. “It was a hard transition but just living on my own, a higher-paced hockey, the school was tough, you know, it kind of made me grow up a little bit and it kind of showed me as I moved through the levels that I could have a chance to play in college.”

Growing up in Massachusetts with the Hockey East rivalries front and center, Foley always dreamed of playing at the Div. I level. He committed to PC in 2014 but then spent one year in the USHL before heading to the then defending national champions. It took him all of four games to score his first college goal and he would finish with 19 points as a freshman. His sophomore season, Foley totaled 34 points, including a team-high 15 goals.

That season, Foley also had the experience of a lifetime. He joined Team USA for the IIHF World Junior Hockey Championships in Canada and helped the U.S. battle back from 2-0 and 4-2 down in the final against the hosts before winning the gold in a shootout.

“That was a journey and a half,” he said. “I really enjoyed my time there. The tournament was really surreal and winning the tournament was a crazy experience, something that not a lot of people can say they did in their life. I really cherish that experience with those guys.”

It was also a different experience for him on the ice, where he played more of a defensive role on the U.S. fourth line rather than being counted on to be one of the team’s leading scorers.

“It showed me a different way of how a team comes together and different roles can make a team succeed,” he explained. “When I got back to Providence, I took that along with me and I think that just playing at that fast pace and in those crazy environments at the World Juniors helped me a lot.”

Turning pro was always a possibility after this season, but Foley said that he tried not to let it distract from the goal of trying to win a Hockey East title and get the Friars back to the Frozen Four. While PC barely missed out on the semifinals, losing by a goal to Notre Dame in the regional final, Foley had a stellar season. He had career highs with 16 goals and 19 assists and earned an All-Hockey East First Team nod.

After his season came to an end, Foley re-considered the option of playing in the NHL and decided that he was ready to make the leap. He also admitted that he has a lot to work on this summer to prepare himself for the next step.

“This is going to be one of the biggest summers that I’ve had in a long, long time,” he said. “I think that the work is just getting started. It’s nice having a new organization to come in and make a first impression on. I’m going to go into the summer and I’m just going to try to get a spot on the roster and if that doesn’t work out I’ll be in the AHL and that’s fine too.”

He will spend another few days in San Antonio before heading back to Mansfield. He is quick to point out that, although hockey has taken him all across the country (and the continent), he hasn’t lost touch with the guys that he started skating with.

“I love Mansfield,” he said. “I keep in touch with all those guys. Those are my best friends down in Mansfield. We’ve been friends since we were little, and I’d never not be in touch with them.”

While he will enjoy some time at home before embarking on the start of his pro career, Foley is looking forward to the opportunity that is before him.

“I’m excited for it,” he said of June’s development camp for prospects. “I want to get a taste of the pro life before it really starts and I get to go to the main camp. I’m excited to get down there and show them what I can do and excited to see the guys.”

2018 Hockomock League Boys Hockey All Stars

Below are the official 2017 Hockomock League Boys Hockey All Stars, selected by the coaches in the league.

Hockomock League MVP

Jack Goyetch, Canton

Hockomock League All Stars

Jake Parker, Attleboro
Nick Allen, Canton
John Hagan, Canton
Jack Goyetch, Canton
Ryan Nolte, Canton
Quinn Gibbs, Canton
Aidan Sullivan, Foxboro
Brendan Tully, Foxboro
Luke Downie, Franklin
Owen Ginley, Franklin
Jack McGrath, Franklin
Jeremy Miller, Franklin
Collin Cooke, King Philip
Mike Curtin, King Philip
Cullin Anastasia, Mansfield
Tim Arnold, Mansfield
Jason McNeany, North Attleboro
Drew Wissler, North Attleboro
Matt McCormack, Oliver Ames
Michael Nikiciuk, Oliver Ames
Brett Williams, Oliver Ames
Brendan Campbell, Stoughton
Will Walsh, Taunton

Dogs Drop Heartbreaker After Improbable Comeback

Canton boys hockey
Canton senior Jack Goyetch fires a shot in the first period against Plymouth South. (Ryan Lanigan/HockomockSports.com)
 
ByRyanLanigan_2016FollowRyanLanigan_2016
 
 
BOURNE, Mass. – A punch in the gut.

That’s what it felt like for the Canton High boys hockey team on Thursday evening. The Bulldogs had just scored their third straight goal, erasing an early three-goal deficit to tie the game with just 1:53 left to in the third period.

But just 14 seconds after Canton completed its comeback, Plymouth South senior Joey Van Winkle saw his slap shot somehow find its way through a crowd in front and into the back of the net. The Panthers added an empty-net goal in the final minute to notch a 5-3 victory in the D2 South Semifinals.

“That’s what it felt like,” Shuman said. “We were bad off of the faceoff on two goals…off that center ice faceoff, they got two goals against us. It’s tough, we played hard, I’m proud of the guys for battling back like they did. That’s this team. We haven’t been down three goals all year and they fight back and made it 3-3… but [Plymouth South] just found a way to get a shot through at the end.”

Click here for a photo gallery from this game.

The game couldn’t have started worse for the Bulldogs or any better for the third-seeded Panthers. Plymouth South scored on its first shot of the game, just 13 seconds into the game when defenseman Jack Worrick fired a shot that found its way between a defenseman’s legs and right into the top corner.

The momentum stayed with the Panthers as they doubled the lead before a minute had expired on the game clock. A turnover in the neutral zone allowed South’s Sean Colbert to skate into the zone and his low wrist shot found its way in at the far post to make it 2-0.

It looked as though Canton might be able to get one back quickly when Plymouth South was whistled for too many men on the ice, but even the power play couldn’t help the Bulldogs.

Forty seconds into the man advantage, a miscommunication on a pass allowed South to skate out of its zone, coming down on a 2-on-1. Panthers senior Daniel Lincoln elected to shoot, hitting the crossbar and in for a 3-0 advantage.

Though down 3-0 midway through the first period, the Bulldogs started to get their legs underneath them and started to plant the seeds of the comeback.

The best chance in the first came with four minutes to play when Bubba McNeice tossed a pass in front that was deflected into the air. Senior Jack Goyetch got a good chunk of it by batting it out of the air but somehow South goalie Cam McPhee kept it out. The rebound found its way around before Mike Dadasis sent it in front again but McPhee covered the puck as Goyetch tried to bury it.

The second period was completely different than the first as the Bulldogs dominated from the opening faceoff. Canton outshot South 16-1 in the fame, scoring a pair of goals to right back into the game.

Despite having to kill a pair of power plays, the Dogs were on the front foot throughout. Shortly after a 21-second power play of their own, Canton finally got on the board.

Junior Joe Robinson read a clearance attempt from the Panthers, knocking it down with his glove. He skated towards goal, and despite having his stick lifted, his was able to slide a pass over to sophomore Chris Lavoie who buried his chance from in close with 5:13 left in the second.

Click here for a photo gallery from this game.

Constant pressure in the offensive zone led to a tripping call on the Panthers, and Canton made sure to cash in. Junior Ryan Nolte picked up a loose puck after a face-off, skated towards behind the goal but dropped the puck off to sophomore Johnny Hagan. Hagan tossed the puck on goal, and despite having a tough angle, the puck hit off the post and in to bring Canton within one with 1:03 to go in the second.

The third period was a bit more even with the early edge to South. But Canton continued to push to tie the game. Hagan had another tough angle shot bang off the crossbar just over three minutes into the frame.

As the clock ticked under six minutes to play, Canton amped up its pressure. McNeice came flying into the zone only for his shot to whistle just wide of the post. And then with 1:53 to play, the Dogs scored their third.

Sophomore Owen Lehane alertly pinched on a clearance attempt and then skated behind the goal to draw the attention of the defense. With all eyes on Lehane, he slid the puck through the crease to the waiting stick of Hagan, who roofed his shot to tie the game.

“This group was special, they really were,” Shuman said. “They showed all kinds of resiliency all year long. I think that’s a credit to the seniors, all 14 of them. They embraced every role we asked of them and they couldn’t be better teammates. The guys on the bench were rooting them on all the way and the guys on the ice fought like hell. It’s just a testament to this team, they were a really great team. It’s always tough to lose at the end of the year like that but I’m still proud of them nonetheless.”

Unfortunately, Plymouth South stole all of the momentum back just 14 seconds later. South gained possession down low, and as Canton’s defense collapse, the puck was sent back out to the defense and Van Winkle somehow got the puck to find its way through traffic.

Canton finished with a 36-19 advantage in shots on goal but it could have been much higher. South’s defense blocked at least a dozen more attempts in front of McPhee.

“I think blocking shots was the key to that game,” Shuman said. “They blocked a lot of our shots, and blocking shots is an art form. I give all the credit in the world to Plymouth South, they wanted that game. And a lot of times you can tell how badly you want to game by how well you block shots. They blocked more of them and a couple of their shots from the points snuck through and that was the difference”

Canton boys hockey finishes the season 17-3-4.

Click here for a photo gallery from this game.

Canton With Dominant Performance to Reach Semifinal

Canton boys hockey
Canton celebrates the fifth goal with its fans in a big win over Westwood at the Canton Ice House in the D2 South quarterfinal. (Josh Perry/HockomockSports.com)

Josh PerryFollowJoshPerry


CANTON, Mass. – The fans were jammed into the Canton Ice House on Saturday night, not surprising since both Canton and Westwood call it home, with lines stretching out into the parking lot at game time and people filling not only the rink’s lot but the parking lots of businesses down the street.

Click here for a photo gallery from this game.

The massive crowd was expecting to see a close game between two contenders for the Div. 2 South title, a game that would go down to the wire. What the crowd got was a second straight dominating performance by the Bulldogs.

Canton outshot the Wolverines 38-13, controlled play the full length of the ice, and were relentless in a 5-0 victory that moves the Bulldogs into the sectional semifinal. Canton has now scored 16 goals without reply in two playoff games and gave head coach Brian Shuman some bragging rights when he returns to his classroom at Westwood High on Monday morning.

“This time of the year, you have to play every shift like it’s 0-0,” Shuman said. “It can’t just be a saying, you can’t be just talking, you have to play every shift like it’s 0-0 and I thought they did a good job of that.”

Special teams were critical for the Bulldogs on Saturday. Canton went 3-for-6 with the man advantage, including a pair of goals in the first period, and also killed off all four Westwood power play opportunities, while limiting the Wolverines to half-chances and long-range shots.

“They had maybe just a couple of shots on the power play,” said Shuman, praising his defensive corps for keeping senior goalie Quinn Gibbs (13 saves) largely untroubled. “Our neutral zone play on the penalty kill in particular was very good. They didn’t give them a chance to possess the puck in the neutral zone to get any possession coming into the zone.”

The dominance began right from the opening face-off, as Canton came out skating hard and creating chances. Ryan Nolte had the first good look on goal skating across the slot onto his forehand but the shot was saved by Westwood goalie Justin Anderson (34 saves).

With 7:26 remaining in the first, Canton broke the deadlock on the power play. Nolte was the first to a loose puck in the crease and he was able to knock it in for a 1-0 lead, Johnny Hagan and Timmy Kelleher picking up assists. Two minutes later, the lead was doubled as Bubba McNeice picked the top corner to Anderson’s blocker side.

Westwood had one good scoring chance in the first when Tim Dalton drove hard at the net from the left side, but Gibbs kept his pad and stick in place to block the shot at the near post and it was cleared. Kelleher and Hagan both had good chances soon after but both narrowly missed the net.

The Bulldogs went up a man with 21 seconds left in the first and quickly made the opportunity count. Nolte set up Hagan in the slot for a one-timer that gave Anderson no chance and gave Canton a 3-0 lead.

“Those power play goals in the first period were huge,” said Shuman. “I think we really moved the puck well and for those guys to get that one right before the end of the period was big.”

Nolte, a junior forward, had a goal and an assist in the first, hit the crossbar in the second and he continues to put together strong playoff performances on both ends of the ice. “Ryan is laid back but he’s had a different look about him the first couple playoff games,” Shuman said. “He’s really stepped up and been consistent for us every game this season and he had another good game tonight.”

The Bulldogs did not take their foot off the gas in the second period, although Anderson did his best to tap the brakes. The Westwood goalie made 12 saves in the second alone, denying Canton on a number of golden scoring chances.

Mike Dadasis was fed in front by Jack Goyetch but Anderson made the point-blank save and he also stopped Hagan after the sophomore danced around several Westwood defensemen to get free for a shot. He then denied Nolte with a scrambling pad save on a shot from the edge of the crease and stopped Joe Robinson right in front.

“He made some incredible saves in the second period,” said Shuman of Anderson. “He kept the score where it was making some incredible post-to-post saves. It was big to get some early because if you let him get hot then it’s a game from start to finish.”

The Bulldogs finally ended any doubt on the power play with five minutes gone in the third period. Anderson stopped the first two shots but the puck squirted loose to McNeice on the far post and he took his time to roof the rebound for a 4-0 lead.

“Bubba’s goal in the third period was huge,” Shuman explained. “That’s the kind of goal you need to score this time of the year, especially against a good goalie who makes those initial stops. For him to finally put that one in was big, not only for the game but also for our goal-scoring psyche as well.”

With 3:29 left, Hagan slid in an empty net goal for his second of the night and third point. The goal wrapped up another convincing win for the second-seeded Bulldogs.

Shuman was not getting carried away after the win. He said, “It’s a good start but as you know this side of the bracket is tough and the next opponent up, whether it’s Medway or Plymouth South, is going to be just as good so we need to continue that.”

Canton (17-2-4) will face either Medway or Plymouth South on Wednesday at Gallo Arena.

Click here for a photo gallery from this game.

Oliver Ames Stunned by OT Goal in Playoff Opener

Oliver Ames boys hockey
Oliver Ames lost a two-goal lead in the third period and, despite having the first seven shots on goal in overtime, lost to Westwood on an OT goal in the first round of the D2 South playoffs. (Josh Perry/HockomockSports.com)

Josh PerryFollowJoshPerry


CANTON, Mass. – In overtime, the quantity of shots on goal is less important than the quality and Westwood proved that point on Wednesday night against Oliver Ames in a Div. 2 South first round matchup at the Canton Ice House. Despite the Tigers holding a 7-0 edge in shots through the first five minutes of four-on-four hockey, it was the Wolverines’ only shot in OT that proved decisive.

Click here for a photo gallery from this game.

Conor Donohue notched his second goal of the game with 47 seconds remaining in overtime to give Westwood a 3-2 win over OA (13-9), completing a comeback from two goals down entering the third period and denying the Tigers another shot at league rival Canton in the next round.

Of course, from the Tigers’ perspective, the game should never have gone to overtime anyway.

“They fought us hard,” said OA coach Sean Bertoni after a lengthy postgame team talk in the locker room, “but the overtime was our period. Our forwards and ‘D’ kept them penned in but couldn’t bury one and they come up the ice on a one-on-one and I think it was their first shot.”

He added, “That’s what happens in hockey. You can dominate for half a period and they come down, shoot and score. It’s frustrating.”

OA scored once in each of the first two periods to hold a 2-0 lead heading to the third, but Westwood wasted no time in cutting that lead in half. Donohue fired a shot from the left circle that beat OA goalie Owen Connor on the glove side inside the first two minutes of the period.

The goal turned the momentum and the Tigers did not seem to have the legs to stem the Westwood pressure. Although OA, which beat Westwood 5-2 in the regular season finale, would end up with a 6-5 edge in shots for the period, the Wolverines had loads of offensive zone time and the much better chances.

Donohue nearly added a second three minutes after his first but Connor made the save and Shane Cronin missed a golden chance to tie it right on the edge of the crease.

Max Ward had the best chance of the third period for OA but he was unable to get his stick on a rebound off a save by Justin Anderson (33 saves). A minute later, Mark Horsfall slid to his right along the blue line, picking the right angle to fire a wrister through traffic that went in off the post to tie the game with 2:46 left.

“Up 2-0, we make one mistake coverage-wise when the puck was in our offensive zone, we had a breakdown there, the coverage wasn’t there, they come down and score,” Bertoni explained. “The second goal to tie the game, we couldn’t block a shot, we let the ‘D’ walk to the center of the ice.”

Despite struggling through the third, OA looked suddenly refreshed after a quick break before the start of overtime and the Tigers came out flying in the four-on-four.

“I think we had a little more depth to roll out a few more forwards and everyone was on the attack,” Bertoni said. “We executed well in terms of offensive zone possession and coverage but just couldn’t bury one.”

Brett Williams, Rory Madden, and Eric LeBlanc all put shots on goal and the Wolverines were on their heels for the first five minutes. That was until a pass through the middle caught the OA defensemen pushing forward and allowed Donohue to find space in the left circle. His snap shot beat Connor to the far post and set off a raucous celebration.

The Tigers had started the game well. Huter Costello had the game’s first notable scoring opportunity five minutes in but his shot was kicked aside. Colin Bourne nearly opened the scoring with a shorthanded breakaway but Anderson managed to get a stick check in and the puck rolled to the corner.

It looked like Westwood had gotten on the board when Brian Reissfelder went bar down from the slot, but the puck was ruled to have not crossed the line. Neither team stopped skating, although there were questions raised from the Wolverines bench. Only two minutes later, freshman Ross Carroll put the Tigers in front with an inch-perfect backhand tip over the shoulder of Anderson from a Matt McCormack pass out of the left corner.

In the second period, defenseman Adam Healey made it 2-0 for the Tigers when his shot from the point made its way through a sea of bodies in front of goal. Seconds later, OA could have broken the game open with another chance, but a scrum in front led to a prone goalie and a puck that slipped narrowly wide of the post. Williams had a good look from the slot after a drop pass by Bourne, but he could not find the corner and Anderson blocked it aside.

The missed opportunities during a period in which the Tigers had a 13-5 edge in shots would come back to haunt the No. 10 seed. Westwood finished the second with a quick flurry and then turned the game on its head in the third.

“End of the second and most of the third we were holding on. Our energy just dropped and we couldn’t claw our way back, but then we did in overtime,” said Bertoni. He repeated, “But, we just couldn’t bury one.”

Click here for a photo gallery from this game.