Below are the official 2022 Hockomock League Boys Hockey All Stars, selected by the coaches in the league.
Hockomock League MVP
Dylan Marchand, Franklin
Hockomock League All Stars
Nick Piazza, Attleboro
Sean Connolly, Canton
Eamon Kelly, Canton
Brennen Pecararo, Canton
AJ Thomas, Canton
Ben Ricketts, Foxboro
Jack Watts, Foxboro
Dylan Marchand, Franklin
Ben Jarosz, Franklin
Christian Shabbick, Franklin
Ben Paterson, Franklin
Shaun Fitzpatrick, King Philip
Brad Guden, King Philip
Nolan Feyler, King Philip
Kyle Oakley, Mansfield
Dillon Benoit, Mansfield
Nick Longa, North Attleboro
Nik Kojoian, North Attleboro
Sean Kearns, Oliver Ames
Nathan Fernandes, Taunton
Connor McGrath, Taunton
Nate Parker, Attleboro
Brendan Tourgee, Canton
Sullivan Kenneally, Foxboro
Cole Pouliot-Porter, Franklin
Sean Crowther, King Philip
Ryan Doherty, Mansfield
Mark Ayvazyan, North Attleboro
Andrew Lingingstone, Oliver Ames
Colton Scheralis, Taunton
BOSTON, Mass. – Throughout its postseason run, Canton has been able to put teams on their heels almost from the drop of the puck and has mostly played from in front. On Saturday evening at the TD Garden, it was Tewksbury that got off to the quick start and the Bulldogs were never able to fully recover.
In a rematch of the 2019 Div. 2 title game, the Redmen came out with extra energy, scored twice in the first period and then held on in the third to secure a 3-1 win. Tewksbury clinched its first title since 2011, ended Canton’s win streak at 22 games, its postseason win streak at 13 games, and its bid at a third straight state championship.
“It was a heck of a hockey game,” said Canton coach Brian Shuman. “I think two of the better hockey teams in the state made it this far and Tewksbury came as advertised, outstanding team, especially on the back end, made it really hard to get any offense going in this game and then when you did get a couple opportunities against them their goalie made some great saves.”
He added, “Incredibly proud of our guys battling. It could’ve unraveled there when we went down 2-0 but we fought.”
It didn’t take the top seed long to show its intent to put pressure on the Canton defense. Jason Cooke forced a turnover in the attacking zone and fired a shot that freshman goalie Colin Davis turned aside with his blocker.
A couple minutes later, the Redmen took the lead. Caden Connors split a pair of Canton defensemen to get in on goal. He dragged Davis away from the net with a nice deke and the loose puck was knocked into the empty net by Matthew Cooke.
Things seemed to be just a little bit off for the Bulldogs. Passes didn’t seem quite as crisp or as accurate and pucks just seemed to be rolling off the blade at crucial times. Still, Canton kept battling and trying to create chances. Eddie Gillis set up a couple of shots, one from the blue line for Ryan Doucette and another on the forehand for AJ Thoams but Benjamin O’Keefe saved them both.
Davis came up with a big save with four minutes left in the first, as he stayed strong to deny a point-blank tip from Jason Cooke. Canton picked up a penalty on the back check and Tewksbury took advantage of the extra skater to double the lead. Connors again showed off his stick skills, weaving his way through three players before dragging it to the backhand while falling and depositing it in the open net.
“They did exactly what you want to do in a game like that, which is get the puck in the other team’s zone and keep it there for a while,” Shuman said about Tewksbury’s fast start. “Our goalie made some big saves. They set the tone for the game and, when that happens, it takes a little while to claw back in it, but I thought we did.”
Canton had a couple of chances at the end of the first. Eamon Kelly took a hit and forced a blocker save out of O’Keefe from the slot and Brennen Pecararo tried to match Connors with a dangle through the legs of the defensemen but O’Keefe closed down the five-hole.
Although shots were nearly even in the first (10-9), Tewksbury seemed to be creating more clear-cut chances. That continued at the start of the second. Another turnover gifted Cooke with a chance from close range that Davis saved. Two minutes in, Justin Rooney had a shot deflected and Doucette had to clear the rebound from the crease.
Brendan Tourgee tried to get things going with a steal in the neutral zone and a shorthanded slap shot that was partially blocked and kicked away by O’Keefe. With seven minutes left in the period, Canton had a great chance to get back into the game. Patrick Drurry’s shot from the left wing boards was kicked right to the stick of Brian Middleton in the slot, but the sophomore’s wrister was snagged by O’Keefe’s quick glove.
There were signs that the Bulldogs had turned the tide a little and they got a huge opportunity with their first power play. Sean Connolly twice had shots from the point saved, despite Jack Digirolamo providing a net-front presence, and Kelly forced a save with a wraparound try. Pecararo then hit Thomas right on the edge of the crease but again the Tewksbury goalie was there.
Canton made the breakthrough midway through the third period. Gillis collected the puck in the slot and slid a perfect pass into the path of an onrushing Thomas, who slammed in a one-timer to cut the lead to 2-1 with 7:13 to play.
“AJ’s had a great year,” Shuman said. “I think he surprised some people early on but he didn’t surprise anyone in our locker room. He’s got such a quick shot and he’s truly talented around the net.”
The spark of life from Canton was short-lived. In fact, it was Tewksbury that seemed to get a boost. Tyler Barnes spun and fired off a quick shot that Davis did well to turn aside, Ryan Flynn jumped on a mistake to race in alone but smacked the bar, and then Barnes got behind the defense on another breakaway only for Davis to shut down the five-hole and keep the Bulldogs in it.
With Canton pressing forward in the final minute and the net empty, Connors was able to break free down the left wing and he sealed the win for the Redmen.
When asked what it meant to be back playing at the Garden, especially after the Bulldogs were denied that opportunity in 2020, Shuman said, “Give me this any day of the week, to be here and give the kids the chance to play in this wonderful place, this amazing venue, and it’s just great to be back playing postseason sports. There’s nothing like it.”
Canton (22-3-1) has lost only four games in the past four seasons, including two unbeaten campaigns. In that span, the Bulldogs have won four league titles, extended their win streak in the Hockomock League to 43 games, won two state titles, made three state title game appearances, and compiled a remarkable record of 79-4-6.
“It’s a testament to the kids that we have,” Shuman said about the sustained success of the program. “You look up in the stands there and you see all these Canton youth hockey players and these younger players from Canton that dream about being out there and they work hard so that they can make it out there and they work hard so they can make our program great when they do make it here.
“I think it’s a community effort and a community love for the sport and I think it just feeds itself.”
LOWELL, Mass. – It isn’t often that Canton goes into a game as an underdog, but with No. 2 seed Gloucester waiting in the Div. 2 semifinal at the Tsongas Center, the third-seeded Bulldogs knew that they were facing a battle-tested opponent with a strong resume.
All of the concerns about the Fishermen were thrown overboard just five minutes into the first period when Canton stormed out of the locker room and scored four goals on their first seven shots. Behind two goals apiece from senior defensemen Sean Connolly and Brennen Pecararo, the Bulldogs rolled to a 6-3 victory and return to the TD Garden for the third straight season.
Canton, the two-time defending state champion, has now won 22 straight games this season (following an 0-2-1 start) and has won 13 straight in the playoffs dating back to the 2018 South semifinal.
“You have to just look at this crew and have so much respect for what they’ve done because they have big shoes to fill,” said Canton coach Brian Shuman. “We have some alums here right now that were part of those 2019 and 2020 [state title-winning] teams and they feel the pressure and I think they really did take it one game at a time. It’s not a cliche, just their approach to the game.
Connolly, who was a freshman on the 2019 team that played at the Garden, said, “It means everything. It’s what we all dreamed about as kids. Hoisting that trophy above your head is a memory that’s going to last a lifetime.”
When asked about getting back to the Garden after the pandemic took away that opportunity in 2020, Connolly replied, “It’s a redemption game. I remember sitting in a classroom, all of us bawling our eyes out. To get the chance to get right back at it, I can’t wait.”
Just seconds into the game, Gloucester looked like it might have the chance to grab the lead when Emerson Marshall got behind the defense but a strong back check helped dislodge the puck right before he was able to shoot. Things swung down the other end and it was Canton that grabbed the advantage. Pecararo, who joined the team after playing in juniors for three seasons, sniped a shot over Gloucester goalie Nick Tarantino’s shoulder on the first shot of the night.
Only 86 seconds later and the lead was doubled. This time it was Connolly, who limped off the ice two rounds ago after an injury in the closing minute against Plymouth North, throwing a puck at the net. It went through a crowd of bodies in front and past the unsighted goalie.
Before the Canton crowd had even settled down, the Bulldogs added another. Only 13 seconds into a power play (and 48 seconds after the second goal), Brendan Tourgee made a perfect angled pass from the left wing boards right to the stick of Connolly, who didn’t need a second touch, knocking his one-timer into the open net.
“Those two guys have played well all year long,” Shuman said about Connolly and Pecararo. “There are two guys who have been huge forces for us offensively, but most importantly defensively. Their game starts in the D zone out and I thought they played great defensively and generated some opportunities in the offense too.”
Things went from bad to worse for the Fisherman a little over a minute later. Tarantino made the initial stop by Eddie Gillis was on hand to collect the rebound and put it away. Even up 4-0, Canton didn’t stop, as Tourgee and Eamon Kelly forced Tarantino into good pad saves and AJ Thomas dragged his way past a defenseman and put a backhand off the goalie’s pads. Canton outshot Gloucester 18-5 in the first (41-21 for the night).
“We’ve been in a couple of those games over the years,” Shuman explained, “late round games that we start off really well and it’s great, don’t get me wrong, but you know that there is a lot of game left and they are a really, really good team. For our guys to come out and play with that kind of poise at the start was really awesome, I’m so proud of them.”
If the Fishermen though that the intermission would slow Canton down, Pecararo showed that was wishful thinking. He made a nice move to keep the puck in at the blue line and fed Thomas, who went top shelf to make it 5-0 less than 90 seconds into the period. With 8:55 left in the second, Pecararo doubled his tally for the night with a pinpoint shot from the point.
“He’s awesome, one of my best friends, and I was glad to get him back this year,” Connolly said of Pecararo. “We do well together and he’s a great addition to our locker room and on the ice.”
Throughout the postseason, Shuman has talked about teams playing with more urgency and desperation when trailing. Taking advantage of a power play, Gloucester started to find that sense of urgency and tallied twice in only 23 seconds to try and make a game of it. Joseph Orlando knocked in a rebound for the first and a nice pass across the crease from Jack Costanzo to Brett Cunningham accounted for the second.
Gloucester turned the tide in the final few minutes of the second and started to put pressure on freshman goalie Colin Davis, who made a series of big stops down the stretch despite the Fishermen throwing as many bodies at the net as possible. Davis made a big stop early in the third after a long rush by Costanzo and denied Colby Jewell on a point-blank stop to keep the four-goal lead.
As the third period wore on, Canton regained its footing and created a series of chances against Gloucester’s backup goalie Riley De Haan. Connolly’s shot forced a save and Jeffrey Chaput sent the rebound just wide. Another Connolly shot was tipped in front by Sam Carlino, but the goalie stayed with it. Tommy Phaneuf had a wrap around try stopped by the goalie’s toe.
Although Gloucester would get a third on a Costanzo power play goal with less than a minute remaining, Canton was able to celebrate another victory and another trip to a state final. It is a special moment for a team that missed out on a chance to skate at the Garden two years ago.
“I think it’s exciting just to be back out there in the playoffs,” said Shuman. “Last year, we were so lucky just to be out there skating and this is great. You cannot beat a playoff high school sports season.”
Canton (22-2-1) will take on top seed Tewksbury in the final, in a rematch of the 2019 championship game that the Bulldogs won 6-2 to complete an unbeaten season. The game is scheduled for Sunday at 3:15 at the TD Garden.
CANTON, Mass. – It took a few minutes for Canton to find its footing in Wednesday night’s Div. 2 Sweet Sixteen matchup with No. 14 seed Plymouth North at the Canton Ice House. The Bulldogs found themselves on the wrong end of a 5-on-3 power play and their play didn’t have its typical sharpness.
But, the Bulldogs still found the breakthrough midway through the first and then took full control of the game with a two-goal burst in the final minute of the period, including a goal from AJ Thomas with no time on the clock. That surge turned out to be decisive, as the two-time defending state champs would hold off the Eagles for a 4-1 victory.
Canton extended its win streak this season to 20 games and its playoff win streak to 11 games, going back to the D2 South semifinal in 2018.
“It started off well and then some penalties and stuff that kind of took us out of our rhythm, but they’re a good team,” said Canton coach Brian Shuman. “They worked hard from start to finish and they played with more of a sense of urgency when they were down but we had our chances. We had plenty of chances and their goalie played very well.”
The game got off to a sluggish start in part because, before either team had gotten into a flow, there were three penalties called in the opening four minutes. Canton was spent almost 90 seconds down two players, but managed to kill off the Plymouth North power play and keep the game scoreless. It was a big early boost.
“Credit to our guys killing off that 5-on-3, that was huge,” said Shuman. “You still see some nervous energy out there with some of our younger guys and we just have to battle through it and not find ourselves in the penalty box early in the game. Credit to our PK team, they did a great job killing those early ones off.”
Patrick Drury had one of the few good chances early in the game for Canton when his shot from the right wing circle forced a pad save out of Kaden Bono. About two minutes later, Canton had the lead. Eddie Gillis blocked a clearance in the slot, spun quickly and snapped off a shot that went inches wide. The Bulldogs kept battling to keep the puck in deep and Gillis wound up in the right spot to jam in a shot at the near post.
Things started to click into gear as time went on in the first. James Young made a nice pass up the far boards into the path of Andrew Valkanas, who raced down the left wing and forced another good pad save from Bono.
Canton’s best passing move of the night led to the second goal. Brendan Tourgee drove forward through the neutral zone and flipped a pass out to the left to Eamon Kelly, who in turn dropped a pass into the path of defenseman Brennen Pecararo. The senior, who played juniors for his first three seasons and started the season as a forward, smashed his one-timer past Bono.
“As soon as we moved him back to D, the third or fourth game, things have really settled down back there,” Shuman said of Pecararo. “He’s just a really strong defender but he sees the ice really well, can move the puck, and he’s been a real offensive and defensive strength for us this year.”
The Bulldogs beat the buzzer to add to the lead. Brian Middleton took a perfect outlet pass right down the middle but his breakaway opportunity was denied by Bono. Thomas was hustling to follow up the play and he was able to collect the rebound and snipe the top far corner just before the horn sounded.
Leading 3-0, Canton could’ve relaxed but the Bulldogs came out aggressive to start the second. Jay Kelleher held a puck in at the blue line and set up Thomas going to the net only for Bono to make a good stop.
Three minutes into the second, Thomas had another chance saved. The loose puck popped out to Pecararo pinching in but his shot just missed the open net. Thomas continued to fight for the puck on the side of the net and roofed a shot for his second and the team’s fourth.
Valkanas teed up Tourgee for a quick release shot that forced a pad stop from Bono and Pecararo later kept a puck in the zone to set up Thomas for a chance at a hat trick but the Eagles’ goalie made another good save.
The visitors would be outshot 32-19 for the game but weren’t without chances of their own. Evan Hallissey and Kevin Norwood both gave the Canton defense some issues with their speed but freshman Colin Davis continued to be a rock in goal, denying the Eagles from close range on several chances over the final two periods.
Plymouth North did get some momentum before the end of the second. Josh Bates had a steal at the blue line and raced forward for a shorthanded breakaway and he ripped it high to the glove side to make it 4-1.
Rather than let the Eagles build on that momentum in the third, Davis and the Canton defense were able to largely keep things tight in the defensive zone and the attackers were able to keep pressure down the other end of the ice.
There weren’t a lot of great chances for Canton, Valkanas had one shot saved and nearly connected with Tourgee right in front and Kelly forced a nice blocker save after a steal, but the Bulldogs remained in control throughout.
Shuman explained, “Those games are often tough, when you get up early on a team, desperation kicks in on their side, they really elevate their game, and that’s what happened to Plymouth North. They really elevated their game in the second and third period, in particular, and I thought our guys did a good job of still controlling the play and getting some chances.”
Canton (20-2-1) will face No. 6 seed Walpole in the D2 quarterfinal at a date, time, and location to be determined.